California State University, Long Beach
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CSULB to Provide Professional Musicians for Classrooms

Published: November 16, 2009

Calico Winds, a renowned wind chamber music quintet, will participate in Classroom Connections, a program designed by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center (CPAC) at CSULB that employs professional artists to teach elementary school students in their classrooms about a variety of art genres.

Members of the quintet will begin teaching the students from Nov. 17-23 during 45-minute workshops in classrooms at the Long Beach schools Lafayette Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Madison Elementary, Fremont Elementary, Gant Elementary and Newcomb Academy.

To generate in the students an appreciation and enthusiasm for wind chamber music, the artists will teach about their instruments—what they look and sound like, how are they made and how they are played. Students will also learn what a quintet is and how the sounds of the instruments work together to create the music.

“Wind instruments are a very diverse group, from how they produce sound to the sound each instrument makes,” said Rachel Berry, who plays the horn in Calico Winds. “The bassoon and the oboe are instruments that are rarely seen in elementary school ensembles. The students will get to see these instruments up close and even make their own double reeds using a drinking straw.”

The Classroom Connections program was created 12 years ago and is the Carpenter Center’s most popular educational outreach initiative. Each year, professional artists, troupes, teachers and graduate students are hired to conduct workshops. The program engages more than 4,000 Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) students each year at a cost of $90,000.

The program starts one to two weeks before the artists begin teaching in the classrooms with an introductory session taught by a Carpenter Center instructor who explains the art genre they will learn as well as theatre etiquette.

Over the years, students who have participated in Classroom Connections have learned to play sitars and have created African dance costumes, practiced traditional Indian dance movements, were taught jazz rhythms and the five basic positions of classical ballet. They have also benefited from historical lessons, learning such items as where hip-hop dance began and why we say “bravo” at the end of an opera aria.

After the workshops are completed, the students will broaden their chamber music exposure on Nov. 24 at the Carpenter Center where they will see a Calico Winds performance in its entirety. Besides Berry on horn, Calico Winds consists of Eileen Holt Helwig (flute), David Kossoff (oboe), Kathryn Nevin, (clarinet) and Theresa Treuenfel on bassoon.

Calico Winds’ concerts are engaging and memorable events. The group is known for building a natural and easygoing rapport with its audiences by speaking about the music they perform.

Calico Winds
Photo Courtesy of Calico Winds
Members of Calico Winds (l-r) are David Kossoff, Theresa Treuenfel, Rachel Berry, Eileen Holt Helwig and Kathryn Nevin.

“Classroom Connections provides a diverse comprehensive arts experience for students that just isn’t offered anywhere else in the area. Students not only learn about various art forms in the classroom, they get to build upon that learning by direct interaction with professional artists. The students then get to see ‘their artists’ perform in our beautiful performing arts center on CSULB’s campus,” said Michele Roberge, CPAC executive director. “We are delighted to have Calico Winds join the Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences and LA Opera this season.”

Following the performance, the Carpenter Center will send additional educational materials and suggested follow up activities to the participating schools to encourage further in-classroom discussion and critical thinking about wind chamber music. The materials will be designed to adhere to LBUSD’s performing arts content standards for music.

Previous artists who have shared their art during Classroom Connection workshops include the Lula Washington Dance Company, Pilobolus, the Children of Uganda, Josh Kornbluth, the Oberlin Dance Company, Ramaa Bharadvaj and the Hobart Shakespeareans.

Funds for the program are made possible by The Dwight Stuart Youth Foundation; Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe; the Norris Foundation; the Arts Council for Long Beach; the Bess J. Hodges Foundation; the Long Beach Rotary Foundation, and the generosity of many other individuals.

“Calico Winds wants to enrich students’ lives by introducing them to classical music. In today’s culture a student can go through college and have little or no knowledge of music beyond pop culture,” said Berry. “We want to start the process of encouraging students to explore many types of music; for them to know that though they live in a very visual world, they can still listen to a piece of music and make their own story just by using their imagination.”

–Paul Browning