Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra Rocks the House with Interactive Music

Talented young musicians are inspiring kids throughout the library system with live music as well as a chance to put hands on musical instruments and even play the violin.

This free interactive music lesson with members of the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra will take place throughout June and July at many branches of the Central Arkansas Library System as part of the CALS Summer Reading Club, “Libraries Rock!”

Inspiring young adults teach music that kids can touch and feel

Three young adults from the ASYO gave a brief performance and talk about orchestral instruments to a family audience that filled the room at the Thompson Library. Their presentation was stellar, both in performance quality and in the poise and effectiveness of these young music educators.

When Taylor Johns played the famous opening clarinet riff from “Rhapsody in Blue,” a thrilling spiral into the stratosphere, all listening adults could tell within seconds that this young man is an accomplished musician. But what excited the kids even more was the chance to touch the shiny saxophone, flute, trombone and trumpet. The young adults from the Symphony Youth Orchestra gently supervised the hands-on session and answered questions.

Any music lover would have cheered at the sight of a crowd of excited elementary schoolers lining up to play the violin. Parents were impressed by the opportunity and the nonstop engagement of their children. “This is a nice function,” said one father, Sharmilan Thanendrarajan, with admiration.

Making a difference through library-based community outreach

Taylor Johns is a recent grad of the Symphony Youth Orchestra who now teaches clarinet lessons. His passion for teaching is clear. He says what he enjoys most about this outreach is “the response from the kids, especially when they get excited to hold an instrument in their hands.”

Another recent grad, Isaac Asher, related his reason for volunteering: “I started playing when I was 8 and I’ve now played for over a decade. It has been a vital part of my life, and it’s fun to relive the experience of kids discovering music at the same age when I did.”

Anna Asher, a 10th grader, also loves working with children and volunteers with other music education programs. Her kind patience helped even the shy children come forward to take a turn with the bow and strings.

Summer Reading Club takes a musical theme

Jessica Vert, children’s programmer for the Thompson Library, was delighted by the obvious benefits of the musical outreach. “It’s amazing for the children to get this exposure and be able to put their hands on an instrument. Hearing an instrument in person, live, is different from hearing a recording because it’s so visceral. And many are at the perfect age when they may be able to start learning to play music.”

Kids leave with new interest in musical instruments

Calvin, age 4, studied a saxophone in his hands with unusual interest for such a young child. After Taylor Johns showed him how to remove the mouthpiece, Calvin said, “I like how it comes apart.”

Krishan, 7, played the violin with pleasure and thought it sounded “funny and squeaky.”

Mira, who is almost 5 years old, said her favorite instrument at the event was the bass clarinet with curved silver horn. Or as she called it with fire in her eyes, “The big one!”

Here is the schedule of library branch presentations for the Summer Reading Club by the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra Ensemble:


DEE BROWN,  Mon Jun 18,  2:00 pm

TERRY, Tue Jun 19, 2:30 pm

NIXON,  Wed Jun 20,  4:00 pm

MCMATH,  Thu Jun 21, 2:00 pm

MAIN,  Tue Jun 26, 10:30 am

ROOKER, Wed Jun 27, 2:30 pm

FLETCHER,  Thur Jun 28,  10:00 am

CHILDREN’S,  Tue Jul 10,  10:00 am

WILLIAMS,  Thu Jul 12,  10:30 am

MILAM,  Tue Jul 17,  2:00 pm

BROOKS,  Thu Jul 19,   1:00 pm