Tunes and Tales
What do a dancing giraffe, a sneezy garbage truck and a boy named Jack share in common? They have all been featured in the Charlottesville Symphony’s Tunes and Tales program at the Barrett Early Learning Center in downtown Charlottesville.
The Barrett Early Learning Center is the oldest childcare center in Virginia. Founded in 1935 under FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) program, it introduces children ages 2-5 to the big, wide world through art, gardening, music, books, field trips, and more. Tunes and Tales has been a partner activity there since 2016. Over the course of a school year, Principal players from the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia – all of whom are UVA Music faculty members – open doors to the four families of orchestral instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Each musician demonstrates an instrument and accompanies a storybook using music and sound effects that are easy for the orchestra’s littlest listeners to grasp.
Readers are members of the Charlottesville Symphony Society’s Education Committee and CSS Director of Youth Education Elizabeth Roberts. Following the story time, wide-eyed children are able to play real instruments. Roberts says, “It is wonderful to see how each child naturally gravitates towards one instrument or another. This is a rare opportunity for them to poke, prod, buzz, honk, strum, shake, strike – and even finesse – so many real orchestral instruments.”
The word that musicians, volunteer readers, and BELC staff alike use to sum up the experience is JOY.
Tunes and Tales is one component of a much larger education program offered free of charge by the Charlottesville Symphony Society to Pre-K through Grade 12 students in an eleven-county region.