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The sound of music

WINTON – Contrary to popular belief, libraries aren’t always quiet. Sometimes they’re filled with the sounds of music.

As a part of their summer reading program, the Hertford County Public Library in Winton hosted representatives from the North Carolina Symphony here June 28. Elementary-aged children and younger learned the basics of music and had the opportunity to try playing a couple of different instruments.

“We have come here from Raleigh to play for you today,” announced long-time NC Symphony bass player Erik Dyke as he began their hour-long interactive presentation.

He was accompanied by NC Symphony intern Jay Attys and Director of Education Jason Spencer. Their program at the library was made possible by a “Grow Up Great” grant from the PNC group.

“We think it’s worth it to bring music to you here,” Dyke said, addressing the eager young audience.

Dyke outlined three main parts of music—melody, harmony, and rhythm—and then demonstrated how each one sounds through different instruments and songs. He also explained what music notes are called and how instruments produce sounds through vibrations.

NC Symphony members Jason Spencer (left) and Erik Dyke listen as one of the youthful participants tries his hand at playing the clarinet. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

There was plenty of opportunity for audience participation. Lots of attendees, young and old, sang along with songs such as “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music, “It’s a Small World” from Disney, the theme from Gilligan’s Island, “Happy Birthday,” and more.

Volunteers from the audience also had the opportunity to try playing several different instruments. Young kids dwarfed by Dyke’s bass tried out the “slap bass” method of playing and learned about syncopated beats. They learned how to strum a ukulele to produce notes. Some brave volunteers tried blowing air through the clarinet and the trumpet, and found it was a bit more difficult than the string instruments.

But everyone’s favorite seemed to be the percussion instruments. Kids shook maracas and tambourines and knocked wood blocks together while the symphony performers played the harmony and the melody to “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

“If you ever want to try an instrument, you’re gonna have to practice a little bit. Because practice makes perfect,” said Dyke, encouraging each child to continue playing more in the future.

The kids also learned about how instruments are grouped into different categories such as strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Dyke used a picture book to show more examples of different instruments and how they come together to form a symphony orchestra.

“The fun part about music is you can go anywhere in the world,” explained Attys, who has performed jazz songs as far away as Europe and China. “We don’t speak the same language, but if you go and know the same music, you can play it together. It’s beautiful.”

At the end of the program, Dyke thanked everyone for coming and urged the kids to continue exploring music.

Library Branch Manager Tomeka Roulhac said she was glad to be able to have this event as a part of their annual summer reading program.

“We had them (the NC Symphony) come last year, so we’re happy to have them come again this year. The kids and everybody really enjoy it,” she said after the event. “We’re looking forward to having them come back again.”

The library’s summer reading program will continue throughout the rest of July and into August, providing various fun learning opportunities for people of all ages. This year’s theme is “A Universe of Stories.” All branches of the Albemarle Regional Library host reading program activities during the summer months.