On February 4th, three POP Teaching Artists performed for the elementary school students of Wissahickon Charter School. The following account was written by POP Flute Teaching Artist Zoe Hillengas:
On February 4th, my fellow teaching artists Fabian, Kristina and I arrived at Wissahickon Charter School bright and early at 8:15 in the morning. We immediately received a warm welcome when a man outside the school spotted us and asked if we were from Play On, Philly! He warmly opened the gate for us and gave us directions to enter the building. Minutes later, the same man followed us into the waiting area of the office and shed his coat, revealing himself to be one of the directors of the school. Every faculty member that we encountered was ecstatic and expressed their anticipation to hear our performance.
Soon we were taking our positions throughout the room where we would perform, as kindergarten through 4th grade students filed in. At just the "right" moment, I eyed Kristina at the front and Fabian on the opposite side of the room, and we began playing without introduction, slowly making our way to the front of the room as we played. The effect was priceless. I saw the girls and boys ears perk up at the first sound of music and their faces light up as we gradually worked our way into view. The rest of the concert was equally entertaining for both the audience and performers as we continued to defy the idea of musicians as untouchable objects in a stuffy atmosphere. My greatest joy was to simply walk into the middle of where the students sat and speak to them naturally, just one person to another.
Other memorable moments included when I explained that my flute was just like a person (with a head, foot, and body), and proceeded to "pop" the head of my instrument for a closer look, causing shrieks of surprise and delight. I also remember Kristina shocking students with loud swells of her horn and the whole room buzzing with students humming melodic lines she had taught them. Another priceless memory is when Fabian played Flight of the Bumblebee on his clarinet, all the while frenetically darting around the room and interacting with students.
One first grader could not stop smiling and blushing from the sheer joy of having someone direct music specifically at her, as if telling her a joke or whispering a secret in her ear. I think the image of that girl's face will remain the most memorable for me--a look of sheer joy and understanding--hopefully a look that is contagious.