Students Kindle Imagination With Great Music


Over the next two months, several hundred area children will be busy listening, writing, painting, and drawing, sharing their thoughts and feelings about great classical music. It’s all part of a program called The Musical Spark, offered by Staunton Music Festival as a way to engage children’s ears and imaginations.

“It’s very simple in concept,” says program director Jason Stell, also executive director of the Festival. “[Students] receive a free CD or digital stream of five pieces recorded just for them, on varied instruments. Then they select one piece and respond to it by creating a story, poem, or original artwork. No essays, no analysis—just images and ideas inspired by the music.”

Formerly called The Writer’s Ear, the updated version has expanded to include high-school age students and also invites kids to create visual art as a response to the music. The Musical Spark project is open to any child in grades 3-12 who lives or studies in Staunton, Waynesboro, or August County, and includes students in public, private, alternative, and homeschool situations. Materials are available from school teachers and at all public libraries, and the deadline to submit is February 3rd.

The program will culminate on Sunday, March 12, when students read and display their responses at a free public concert. Faculty musicians from James Madison University, including violist Kathleen Overfield-Zook, pianist Paulo Steinberg, and percussionist/composer Casey Cangelosi, will perform the five musical selections. The event is at 3:00 pm, at Francis Auditorium of Mary Baldwin College, in the Pearce Science Center (northwest corner of Coalter and Frederick Streets), Staunton. The public is invited to attend free of charge and a reception will conclude the event.  Families are encouraged to attend.

** Students interested to participate, click here to learn more. **