76 Sousaphones Led the Big Parade
No, euphonium is not the opposite of pandemonium.
The task of explaining that to 120,000 Philadelphia 4th through 6th graders, as well as to its own students, has been taken on by a well-known community arts school in the city. The Settlement Music School wants to awaken the city schoolchildren to the world of "good'' music and, in the process, to excite their interest in lesser-known instruments, such as the bassoon, the cello, and the you-know-what.
Noting a recent national decline in the number of students playing the less-common instruments, the music school launched its "Endangered Instruments'' program to counter the current indifference to rarer instruments and to highlight the contributions they make to ensemble music-making.
The approach is light but the threat the decline poses to the composition of future orchestras or bands is serious, says the school's executive director, Robert Capanna. So the new program is offering scholarships to aspiring musicians who steer away from the piano, violin, or flute when selecting their instrument.
"We tell our students,'' says Mr. Capanna, "that they can be one of 200 violinists or one of a handful of violists.''
In addition, the school will promote knowledge of instruments and music awareness among children with a program called "Quadrus and Friends Musical Journey.'' The comic-workbook and cassette-tape package tells the tale of a character named Quadrus who, with a multiracial group of friends, enters a contest to find as many musical activities in the city as possible.
The package, which students receive in class, includes a teacher's guide to a five-day curriculum and a tape that gives examples of "good music.'' Its purpose, explains Mr. Capanna, is to illustrate for the children that "good music is all around them in their environment--at concerts, in churches, and on the radio.''
"People are in a passive mode musically--they listen but don't make music themselves,'' he observes. He also hopes the Quadrus lesson will encourage children with "musical impulses to act on them.''--J.W.
- The euphonium is "a brass instrument, similar to the tuba, but having a somewhat higher pitch and mellower sound,'' according to The American Heritage Dictionary.