By Michael Stewart / Executive Editor
The Meridian Star
About 70 local youths plucked string instruments, banged on drums and tooted horns Tuesday during the Symphony Fun Fest at MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts.
The annual one-day music workshop exposes youths age 5-18 to musical instruments ranging from the upright bass to the flute and the trombone, to name a few.
Children were divided into groups and took turns rotating between different workshops that included musical instruments in the categories of string, percussion, brass and woodwind.
Area musicians volunteered their time to teach the children about the instruments.
The purpose of the annual event is to foster a love and appreciation of music in children, said Susan Johnson, education director for the Meridian Symphony Association Inc., the administrative arm of the Meridian Symphony Organization.
The event is sponsored by the Meridian Symphony Association, the Meridian Council for the Arts and the Community Foundation of East Mississippi.
Exposing children to music is especially important given cutbacks nationwide in children's arts programs, Meridian Symphony Association Executive Director Mark Altekruse said.
In addition to the annual Symphony Fun Fest, the Meridian Symphony Association also sponsors visits by renowned guest musicians to area schools, offers a backstage program where students can visit the Riley Center during concert rehearsals and provides violin and cello lessons to area children.
"Right now we are the only string program in town for children," Altekruse said.
The day's activities wrapped up with a live concert by participating musicians, accompanied by the children on "hose horns" they built themselves.