Fifth-graders provide the bells and whistles for guest performance

NEIGHBORS

December 15, 1993|By PAT BRODOWSKI

The entire fifth grade, with glockenspiels, tambourines, cymbals, snare drums and assorted jingling, jangling wind chimes and triangles, swelled into Idalea Rubin's music room at Spring Garden Elementary in Hampstead.

The students jostled for a place on the carpet around guest pianist Joyce Hongsermeir. A very unusual musical event was about to occur.

Today the professional musician and the child would meet. They would play the music, "Celebration," written by children's composer and teacher Lynn Freeman Olson.

At least 50 10-year-old musicians tapped hurried practice notes. At least as many peered over shoulders and beyond tom-toms and sand blocks to view the large, handwritten copy of the score on the music room wall.

A transcription of "Night Lights," the second movement of "Celebration," papered the bulletin board the length of the room.

Color-coded strata of bars and notes showed music written for seven rhythm instrument sounds.

"This is called 'Night Lights,' " Mrs. Hongsermeir said before they began. "So, picture the street lights, thinking not just your part. Don't play absolutely note-note-note, but listen for phrases and how the music should go."

She sat ready at the piano. Mrs. Rubin conducted. The glow of the imagined night lights swelled from a duo of autoharps. Snare drums swished under brushes. The tinkling and jingling found rhythmic order as the piano weaved the themes together.

For several precious minutes, wind chimes, sand blocks and glockenspiel united in symphony.

The children had practiced in small groups to prepare for this day.

A different Spring Garden teacher -- choral instructors Mary Smaligo and Mrs. Rubin, and instrumental instructor Karen Rogers -- had directed each of the three movements.

Staying on track among the seven rhythms, plus the full-bodied piano accompaniment, was difficult for the 10- and 11-year-olds, Mrs. Rubin said, because there were no words to follow and it was a long piece to play.

Mrs. Hongsermeir, a graduate of Peabody Conservatory of Music, is working on her doctorate in piano at the University of Maryland.

She's working on Kodaly piano pedagogy (teaching), "which means adapting Kodaly musicianship training to piano," she said. Her doctoral work has included musical performance and writing about music.

The Kodaly concept, created by Zoltan Kodaly in the 1920s, is to teach basic musical skills and the reading and writing of music through experience.

American folk songs and games, traditional songs of other cultures and music from classical masters are part of the Kodaly program to develop a love for music in young children.

Ideas from the Kodaly method are used in Carroll County schools. Mrs. Rubin, a member of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, invited Mrs. Hongsermeir to Spring Garden.

The fifth grade studies American culture, including its music.

Mrs. Hongsermeir's doctoral work involves studying how to teach children music through the voices of their culture.

It seemed a nice match. Before this day, Mrs. Hongsermeir had heard the seven rhythm instrument parts played by the children "only in my head," she said.

The children gained a studio session in which they worked with a professional musician.

"Lots of kids have never looked at a score," Mrs. Hongsermeir said. "I wish that more kids could get this kind of learning experience."

The hubbub of so many students wasn't new to her.

She had taught in Nebraska, at St. Paul's School for Boys in Washington and now teaches private voice and piano while she works toward her doctorate, she said.

"Now, as musical as possible," said Mrs. Hongsermeir, beginning "Night Lights" again.

"The first time is always bedlam," she laughed.

*

It takes about 10 years to grow a Christmas tree, says Frank Koontz. Hundreds of his impeccably shaped white pines march over the hillsides of Fra-Mar Farm on Shiloh Road in Hampstead.

In July, when most of us are thinking of watermelons and fireworks, Mr. Koontz is shearing his last Christmas trees.

His motorized blade is carried like a 78-pound pack on his shoulders with handles for maneuvering.

He trims from top to bottom, sculpting each tree into a green cone to fit anyone's living room.

By Christmas, three new tufts of pine needles softly cover each trimmed twig.

After you walk through the carefully trimmed forest, Mr. Koontz will invite you for hot cocoa and show you crafts -- ranging from ornaments to fabric wreaths -- made by his wife, Marion.

Fra-Mar Farm is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Dec. 24. Information: 374-2868.

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