Youths take notes for free concert in Takoma Park -- Gazette.Net


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More than 35 young musicians have been preparing to play a medley of songs that include classical, folk, blues and Disney’s 2013 hit “Let It Go” from the animated movie “Frozen.”

The musicians are from the House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park and Community Academy of Music and Arts in Washington, D.C.

Their free concert will take place at the gazebo at the corner of Carroll Avenue and Westmoreland in Takoma Park at noon on Sunday.

“What I try to do is bring them all together at a concert ... to present an eclectic repertoire of tunes, so there’s something for everybody. ... And to let students play as much of it as they can,” said Ken Giles, a music teacher at the House of Musical Traditions.

There also will be some jazz tunes.

“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” Giles said, referring to Duke Ellington’s famous jazz number.

Besides “Let It Go,” the musicians also will play “Happy” from the Universal Studios hit movie “Despicable Me 2” and will perform songs from the civil rights era, such as “Freedom Summer.”

“I’m really interested in teaching music history, as well as how to play an instrument ...,” Giles said. “It’s timely this summer to do this type of songs because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.”

The musicians get both a music lesson in Giles’ class and a civics lesson.

“Music isn’t just off by itself. It’s connected to our history in our society,” he said.

Children as young as 4 years old are part of the orchestra. Giles found a way to make sure everyone participates as a team, even though they have different levels of knowledge and experience.

Some students learn by watching other students play their instruments.

“I think, in a way, it gives [beginners] a feeling of safety because they don’t have to get out there and play all by themselves,” Giles said. “The younger ones listen and watch the older ones play and they learn from it and, I think, get inspired by it.”

Some students will play only one tune, such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Others will play more, Giles said, because they have been able to develop their skills and can play well.

“Essentially, this is a big recital concert with everybody playing together,” he said. “It is not solos. Even though some of the kids are just beginners and are playing one song or maybe two, they all get to participate.”

abarros@gazette.net