LAND O' LAKES - No one envisions Luke Skywalker wielding a clarinet, but play a low E on the instrument and the sound that escapes mimics the hum of a "Star Wars" light saber. Clarinetist Calvin Falwell enthralled children at Pine View Elementary with that musical Jedi trick Thursday morning when the Florida Orchestra's Wind Quintet visited the school's summer PLACE program for a mixture of performance and music education. For about three weeks, the quintet is visiting all 25 PLACE locations at elementary schools across the county. PLACE - Pasco Learning and Activity Centers of Enrichment - is a before- and after-school child care program during the school year but switches to all-day child care in the summer. "We've been having a wonderful time playing for these kids," said Lane Lederer, who plays the oboe. "It's a new experience with each group of children."
Lederer and the other musicians each took a few moments to introduce their instruments to the children. Falwell said the clarinet, a single-reed instrument, can play very high or very low. "I like to think the clarinet is best suited for playing beautiful melodies," he said. The bassoon also can go high, but "I think it likes to play down low much better," bassoonist John Kehayas said. The flute is just the opposite. "Where it really likes to play is way up high," flutist Lewis Sligh said. French horn player Carolyn Wahl called on a couple of student volunteers to help her stretch out a roughly 10-foot piece of tubing to demonstrate how long the brass instrument would be if it were unraveled. The students engaged in plenty of clapping and head bobbing as they listened to such works as "Hunting at Valabre" by Darius Milhaud and "La Comparsa" by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, who once lived in Tampa. When the musicians played "The Russian Bear" by Karen Gorton, Falwell urged the children to "close your eyes and imagine you are seeing a giant dancing Russian bear." Before the quintet launched into "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Falwell asked the children to join him in buzzing like a bee. This isn't the PLACE program's first exposure to the Florida Orchestra. During the winter break, PLACE children took a field trip to visit the orchestra, listen to its music and participate in music activities, said Karla Graziano, a program coordinator with PLACE. The quintet's visit to the schools is a follow-up to that program, she said. Elisabet Fandino, a University of Tampa student, visits each school a couple of days before the quintet to present a music education program that helps prepare the children for the arrival of the five musicians. After the performance and demonstration, the musicians fielded questions from the children, who quizzed them about such topics as the age of instruments, the difficulty of playing one and whether the instruments can be played underwater. (The musicians were fairly certain they can't be, at least not very well.) "Is it possible to play any song on any instrument?" asked Judah Long, 9, a rising fourth-grader. Yes, the quintet said. Autumn Gaddie, 9, also a rising fourth-grader, said she hopes to learn to play the clarinet and the bassoon some day. Don't try to pin her down on her favorite type of music, though. She likes it all. firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 371-1853 Twitter: @RBlairTBO