Hundreds of children who showed up Sunday at the Museum of Arts & Sciences Instrument Petting Zoo werent there to toot their own horns, but rather the trumpets, tubas, trombones and french horns of professional and student musicians.
They also fiddled on fiddles, plucked some harps and banged the drums slowly and quickly as they learned about the instruments that constitute a symphony orchestra.
Its all in an effort to help local children appreciate music and instruments to which they may not get any other exposure, said Rich Kosowski, chairman of the education committee for the Macon Symphony Orchestra.
The idea is to introduce kids to the instruments of a symphony orchestra, said Kosowski, who noted the program is now in its fifth year. Its to get them excited about orchestral music. ... The kids get to manipulate the instruments, and (the musicians) demonstrate that instrument.
Some of those performing the demonstrations included Mercer University faculty and students, members of the symphony and students who make up the symphonys youth orchestra.
But the demonstrations Sunday went beyond the percussion, strings, woodwinds and brass instruments that make up an orchestra. Youth and adult dancers performed all sorts of dance routines ranging from Renaissance dances to contemporary, tangos to waltzes.
All of the kids were given passports to be stamped each time they took in an instrument.
The youthful visitors also were exposed to the science of music by Mercer physics professor Matt Marone, who used everything from a slinky to a taut string to demonstrate sound waves, harmonics and frequencies.
(The kids) were starting to notice when the pitch went up, Marone said after a demonstration.
Allyson Moody, of Macon, brought her twin sons Walter and Barrett, 5, to the demonstration. She said that while her sons get a good education, she would like to see them get greater exposure to music. Having taken the twins to the Instrument Petting Zoo last year, she brought them back to increase that exposure.
This hands-on experience is fantastic, she said. Theyre getting started with a little bit of piano. We came to check this out. Dont you think its fantastic? At which point in their lives do they get this close to these instruments?
Calista Waddy, a Mercer faculty member who was demonstrating the harp Sunday, said even the parents often dont get to see a harp up close and want to take a stab -- or a pluck -- at it.
(The event) is absolutely invaluable, said Waddy, just after demonstrating to a 6-year-old girl how to play Heart & Soul on the harp. Most of these kids never get to see these instruments, much less go to a concert and see all the instruments played together. ... Now they may see what they might want to do. Even the parents want to try. Its a great opportunity to be exposed to an instrument and try it out.
Brandon Barnes, 8, came to Sundays event with his friend and neighbor, Ayden Davis, also 8. Both of them took stabs at the various brass instruments.
It made my lips feel weird, Barnes said of attempting the trombone. But it was pretty easy to play. It was very heavy.
Davis said he enjoyed having a turn with the tuba.
It helped my lungs get better because I was taking deep breaths, he said. I almost passed out.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.