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Students try out new instruments at annual music event

January 21, 2019
In this Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, photo, Caleb Haak, 8, high-fives musician Andie Sanders, of Rochester, while trying out a saxophone during the Rochester Symphony's "Honk Squeak Scratch Boom" event, at Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn. The event gave children in 4th-6th grade the opportunity to try out at least 10 different instruments. (Joe Ahlquist/The Rochester Post-Bulletin via AP)

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — There might not be a more aptly named event than Honk, Squeak, Scratch, Boom! But it could just as easily be called Excitement, Frustration, Fun, Joy!

For 8-year-old Caleb Haak, the afternoon started off by rocking his first attempt at playing the alto saxophone.

“I like it. I like the sounds, and I like how my mouth fits on the mouthpiece,” Caleb said to the Post-Bulletin .

Listing off the other instruments he was planning on trying — trumpet and trombone — Caleb said he thinks the brass family would have “good sounds.” The annual event, held at Mayo High School, is aimed at children like Caleb and helping them find the perfect instrument to learn.

With the help of members of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra as well as community musicians and instructors, each child (and sometimes their adult) got to feel what it’s like to take a mallet to a marimba or toot on a trumpet.

“What we have found from the response of music educators in the community is that, number one, more young people sign up to study instruments and orchestra, and especially fewer quit,” Jere Lantz said. Lantz is the president/CEO and artistic director of the Rochester Symphony.

For parents, the frustration was likely felt not being able to try out all the instruments along with their children. At least one parent was overheard in the hallway saying she wished the event was for adults, too.

For Zumbrota Community band saxophonist Andie Sanders, taking part in the annual event is a way to share her passion.

“It’s giving back to the community, helping kids get interested in something I believe in,” Sanders said. “I believe that music is a very important part of your life. It can do a lot of things for your life.”

Seeing the children find their instrument, Sanders said “the joy is overwhelming.”

“It’s just a wonderful thing to see. The kids light up,” Sanders said.

Shortly before the session was set to begin, children and their parents began filtering into the classrooms to test out the various instruments.

In a room filled with oboes and flutes, Javonna Wells-Pittman worked diligently with musician Allen Bishop to learn a few things about the oboe. After the 11-year-old successfully played a B-flat, Bishop showered her with praise.

“You’re amazing,” he said. “You’re a superstar.”

Javonna’s mom, Jennifer, said the oboe was the instrument Javonna was most excited about. When asked why oboe, Javonna replied “she (my mom) said she wished she could do it.” She had tried trumpet earlier in the day, but Javonna said she liked oboe better.

For 10-year-old Nathan Ryno, an opportunity to try out the tuba presented itself recently. It’s an instrument he’s always wanted to play, according to his dad, Kevin. A growth spurt might be required for Nathan to be able to hold and play with the tuba upright but with the help of Rochester Symphony member Charles Wazanowski, Nathan was able to let out a loud, low note.

Anisha Ramar tried both double bass and the cello and was on her way to try out the trombone when she reflected on her experience with stringed instruments. The fifth grader was able to play the classic tune hot cross buns with the help of her instructor on the double bass.

“It was fun,” she said adding that the double bass was really heavy. “They both hurt your fingers a little bit, but I think you’ll get used to it.”

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Information from: Post-Bulletin, http://www.postbulletin.com

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