What is an Instrument Petting Zoo? Find out at Heights Children’s Music Day

Opera music

Two participants at the Heights Kids’ Day of Music

Photo: Courtesy Heights Children’s Music Day

Kids can participate in a drum circle, use technology to record and mix sounds, and suspend their bodies from aerial fabrics when Heights Kids’ Day of Music returns to Love Park this weekend.

The eighth annual event will have a bigger footprint after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Run by volunteers, the family-oriented festival is designed to inspire children to be interested in music both as performers and as patrons, says Christi Gell, president of the organization that organizes the festival. free event.

Not all children have an interest in singing or playing an instrument, but the interactive festival could spark interest in enjoying the arts as an audience member or participating in the arts in some other way, says Gel.

Just Add Beats, the local organization that teaches sound design and podcasting to teens through day camps and school programs, will have an interactive booth. Children will be loaned recording equipment to walk around the festival to record sounds, whether it’s the rustle of the wind, the sound of birds or the musical acts on stage.

Back at the booth, they’ll use headphones and laptops to learn how to manipulate and mix sounds to create a track.

Heights Children’s Music Day

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on March 26

Or: Love Park, 1000 W. 12th St.

Details: Free; heightskidsdayofmusic.org

“A lot of music these days is about production and the technological side of things…that’s another avenue,” for kids who want to get into music without learning an instrument, Gell says.

At the Instrument Experience Zone, formerly known as Instrument Petting Zoo, musicians from Heights High School, Memorial High School and other organizations will invite children to get up close to their instruments to learn how they work.

Children can approach to watch them play instruments such as violins, saxophones, trumpets, clarinets, flutes and trombones, sometimes helping to press the keys.

“They’re so good at showing off and being interactive with young kids,” Gell says. “It’s great to watch.”

“They have a lot of pride in being musicians and want to share…. how they started learning,” she continues.

On-site adult volunteers will help facilitate questions, asking children if they recognize musical sounds from TV shows or a concert they’ve been to, “trying to make a connection with the real world.”

Nearby, the Joy of Drumming tent offers hands-on tutorials from the Joy of Djembe Drumming band, who will also perform sets.

Other local arts groups will have kid-friendly facilities, including Houston Grand Opera and Opera in The Heights. Each of the 30 available art groups has offers and avenues for kids, which may surprise some of their parents, Girl says.

“Just listening to Barney the dinosaur doesn’t get your child involved in the music,” she laughs.

Families can stroll to food trucks including Hugs & Donuts, Tacos A Go Go, and Awesome Bites Co. before heading to the stage, where kids can watch other kids perform.

The young performers will represent Bach to Rock, the Ahiri Academy of Indian Music, the Houston Youth String Orchestra, the Open Dance Project, HITS Theater – a musical theater for children – and ariel dance ARTZ.

The aerial dance troupe will have a platform at the festival from which children can learn to hang from fabrics, an art form that requires physical fitness and balance.

The four adult headliners include children’s musician Uncle Jumbo and Blaggards, an Irish rock band.

When kids see their peers on stage, he begins to understand that acting isn’t just for adults, Gell says, and “it starts to snowball.”

“The more exposure they have, the more likely they are to want to do something arts-related,” the benefits of which are many, she says.

Members of a band, choir, theater or dance group must learn to work as a team, “how to accept criticism without panicking totally” and they will understand that the more you work on something, the better you get, she says.

After seeing performers of all ages on stage, parents too might be inclined to go home and dust off an old instrument.

“Our mission is a lifelong commitment to music and the arts…I want families to say, ‘Look at these people who are 70 and they’re still making music together.'”

Allison Bagley is a Houston-based writer.

  • Allison Bagley

    Allison Bagley is a freelance writer for the Houston Chronicle.