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McGrath 3rd-graders try hand at musical instruments

Posted: March 18, 2008 11:41 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Jose Baltazar, a McGrath Elementary third-grader, tests a clarinet during the school's instrument petting zoo on Tuesday. Students were allowed to try out a variety of instruments.

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The sounds coming from Jami DeSiena's music room at McGrath Elementary School were not exactly melodious Tuesday, but the school's third-graders certainly had a great time trying out orchestra instruments they may want to play next year.

The Newhall School District is the only elementary district in the Santa Clarita Valley to offer an orchestra program, which is open to students in fourth through sixth grades. All third-graders are invited to an "instrument petting zoo" to try out the instruments for the first time.

"They are deciding whether they want to join the orchestra next year, and picking the instrument they would like to play," said DeSiena, McGrath's music teacher. "This is the first chance for the third-graders to touch and actually try out the instruments."

The students were timid at first, but once the noise-making started it was contagious, and the room was soon filled with the sounds of trumpets, trombones, violins, flutes, clarinets and a cello. While he made quite a powerful sound on the trombone, 10-year-old Emiliano Morales said he preferred the peaceful tone of the violin.

"When you use the strings, it makes you focus," Emiliano said. "The sound that it makes was like music to my ears."

Stephanie Mendez, 10, preferred the clarinet.

"When you blow on it, it makes a funny noise," Stephanie said. "But I had fun trying them all."

All Newhall district third-graders will take part in the "petting zoo" this month.

"They may have always wanted to play the trumpet, but when they actually get a chance to try it out, they realize it sounds funny or it's harder than they thought it would be, and then they fall in love with the flute," said DeSiena. "We've been preparing them to be in orchestra this whole year, so this event is definitely something they look forward to."

While orchestra membership is optional, the district's music teachers expect about 400 of the 1,100 third-graders to take beginning instrument lessons in fourth grade.

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