April was a busy month for KCCO’s Don Goldenbaum and Jennifer Mitchell as they performed for and interacted with 245 elementary students at three local schools: Sunflower Elementary School in Shawnee Mission and, in Missouri, the Woodland Early Learning Center and Scuola Vita Nuova.
Don and Jennifer’s school program includes a free, 30-45 minute violin/viola demo in which they explain differences between the two instruments and play kid-friendly selections. In addition, they have recently added a new “Seeing the Symphony” section that gives young students a behind-the-scenes look at how an orchestra works. During this part of the program they illustrate what conductors and concertmasters do, explain why there are more instruments of some kinds onstage than of others, and talk about how symphony concerts differ from other kinds of performances.
Both sections of the school sessions are highly interactive. They include playing lots of “kid friendly” tunes, such as some familiar classical and movie themes, as well as accompanying students as they sing songs they know, and giving each child a chance to help play one of the instruments and/or conduct as Jennifer and Don play.
Contact KCCO if you would like to invite Don and Jennifer to play for your students (at no charge to your school).
The quality of cultural involvement that Jennifer provides our individuals is out of this world and far beyond our expectations of what musical inclusion should look like. – Tiffany Hanna, Johnson County Developmental Supports
In addition to these youth-focused programs, Jennifer also performs regularly at six adult residential care facilities for adults with particular physical and mental needs. In 2016 alone, she played 66 such solo sessions at over a dozen different local care facilities. Many of her volunteer sessions are for Alzheimer’s patients. For those who are no longer able to carry on a conversation or answer simple questions, sometimes music is the only voice left to them. Their faces light up when they recognize what they’re hearing, and they can often sing the words of old familiar tunes!