In the Spotlight with Terra Brantley (Classical Kids)

A new program is making music more accessible to young kids, educating them on different styles and genres — and it’s ‘in the spotlight’ this week.
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 4:22 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) - A new program is making music more accessible to young kids, educating them on different styles and genres — and it’s ‘in the spotlight’ this week. 89.1 WBOI’s Classical Kids has partnered with the Fort Wayne Boys and Girls Clubs to launch Classical Connection, which will provide students with a musical gateway, to career development.

The program started in May, giving twelve students tickets to a performance from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. In addition to seeing local classical music and jazz performances, students also receive station tours and one-on-one discussions with musicians.

But when they can’t go to the music, the music comes to them. The kids likely didn’t realize how special it was to have Fort Wayne Philharmonic Principal Violist Derek Reeves perform solo for them. “I love seeing that spark of recognition in a child’s eye, that, ‘that’s something that I could do!’” Reeves explained. He was just over two-years-old when he started to learn to play. “I remember my first exposure to the violin. It was a fire that was never extinguished. If I can see that in just a few pair of eyes, then I think my job is well done.”

Seventh-grader Ezekiel Lee understands -- though he’s not shy to admit it he surprised himself. “At first I didn’t want to play the violin, but I had to play it for a class. Now I fell in love with it,” he explained. “It was such a good instrument, and there’s many different ways you can play it. It’s just so diverse.”

“If I’m going to fall in love with it, you’re going to fall in love with it,” Lee added.

And regardless of the type or genre, music is an important element of these kids’ daily lives. “Sometimes it makes me feel happy or excited… it just makes me happy,” sixth-grader Melany Ruiz-Chavez told us. “The Classic Kids program really inspired me to go and learn the culture and jazz actually. I’ve done a few research projects on it for school and it’s also inspired me to play other instruments too,” sixth-grader David Haruna said. “I got to see all the amazing—not just my own pop music but I just saw other forms of music as well.”

And children didn’t hesitate to ask Reeves questions. He broke down music in a way they could relate too, while also playing long excerpts of the most challenging pieces. “Music is so much more than entertainment. It’s really a connection to some of our greatest accomplishments as human beings on this planet and it’s a shared language that we all intuitively understand,” Reeves explained.

“Music will actually help children intuitively understand things about communication, language, socialization, mathematics, and it’s also a wonderful self-esteem builder as well.”

You can learn more about Derek Reeves here, and the Classical Kids program here.