Mill Pond hosts band instrument ‘petting zoo’
Westborough – Most people think of furry creatures when they hear "petting zoo." On April 15, though, Mill Pond School fourth-graders and their parents experienced a diff erent kind of petting zoo – one showcasing band instruments instead of creatures. There were still squawks and squeaks, but the sounds came from instruments, not animals.
Paul Tomashefsky, Mill Pond's band director, got the idea for an instrument petting zoo from the Wellesley public schools where he previously taught.
"After sitting down with David Jost, coordinator of fine arts for the Westborough Public School system, and Karen [Forrest] and Matt [Lefebvre]," he said, "we came up with the idea for [a band instrument petting zoo] in its current form."
Fourth-graders wishing to participate in the fifth grade band must attend the event.
"The kids might have a preconceived notion they want to do one instrument," Tomashefsky said. "The kids and the parents get a chance to hear and see how the instruments work. It educates the parents and the child and to physically see what they're going to do well at."
Karen Forrest, Gibbons Middle School band director, added that parents may think a particular instrument is good for their child because it's in the closet.
"Aunt Tilly's flute may have been great for Aunt Tilly," she said, "but not for their child."
Students were able to try playing a flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, alto sax, French horn, baritone horn, trombone and percussion instruments.
"I though it was awesome, a great turnout," Tomashefsky said. "We had 87 families that night and I've seen an additional 20 students since then. Last year we had approximately 55 kids. It's been a huge benefit to the program. I am so appreciative of working here in Westborough and that parents are supportive of music and the arts in general."
"The teachers were accommodating," said Jackie Pirdy, the parent of a fourth-grader. "I was amazed at how much time they spent with all the kids."
"The people at each station were nice and helpful and sometimes funny," fourth-grader Mallory Shane said. "You got a passport and every time you accomplished that instrument, [the teacher] stamped it to show that you did it."
"It was fun to try it all the instruments," fourth-grader Arpita Joyce said.
"It was fun to be able to touch all the instruments that you wouldn't get to touch usually," fourth-grader Julia Marcus said.
"It was a great opportunity for the kids," Julia's father, Kristofer Marcus, said.
"Every parent said that it was a wonderful thing we were doing," said Don Rose, the educational representative for Music and Arts Centers. "Hearing the kids and the parents having such a good time made it all worthwhile."
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