On Jan. 20, at 11 a.m. the North Carolina Symphony in partnership with the Watauga County Public Library will be sharing their love of music and learning with children throughout the state via a virtual event. The 30-minute program is part of the NC Symphony’s Music Discovery program, which is funded by PNC’s “Grow Up Great” initiative, which seeks to foster educational growth in underserved children.

The Music Discovery program kicked off its first virtual programs this past summer following the cancellation of in-person programming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the NC Symphony has partnered with nearly two-dozen libraries in order to provide a safe, interactive musical experience that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.

“As we continue to fulfill our mission of statewide music education, it has become even more important that we pivot and adapt our education programs to meet the needs of students and teachers during these challenging times,” said Jason Spencer, the NC Symphony’s Director of Education. “Children need access to the arts now more than ever, and it is important for us to continue having a presence, albeit virtually, in classrooms and homes across the state. By offering this program virtually, it has allowed us to serve libraries and counties we may not otherwise serve during a ‘normal’ year.”

“Music is important because it allows us to have moving experiences, and share them. Everyone has a musical memory of hearing a piece of music that made them feel something,” said David Kilbride, a violinist in the NC Symphony referring to the impact music has on individual lives. “When the memories of our life fade and we no longer know the names and faces of our loved ones, we still hum along with melodies and sing words to songs unheard for decades. These are important moments in life.”

Kilbride will be featured in the Jan. 20 virtual event, where he will be reading a book about music, talking about his violin and explaining how other instruments make their sounds and leading children on a sing-along. The event will be hosted via Zoom, those wishing to participate can register at zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMuf-GrqDstHtdRz1tSVvqF-T7MQn4FBfzn?fbclid=IwAR0q86-UcvSyfkVFyJXfcUaqNle2VbQObi195DzQbfXPbK2pJIwp9Bwvcqg.

According to Spencer, throughout the pandemic libraries across the state have embraced the NC Symphony’s digital programming with enthusiasm, some even taking extra steps to help provide a more tactile musical experience for families at home.

“Libraries and families across the state have welcomed the program with enthusiasm and excitement. Most libraries have had to cancel in-person programming and pivot to offering a virtual storytime or alternate programming,” said Spencer. “ A few libraries have gone above and beyond by providing musical craft kits for families to pick-up curbside in advance of the Music Discovery program.”

If possible, participants are encouraged to join in with toy instruments, such as bells and maracas and tambourines from home. Moving forward into 2021, the NC Symphony is planning to continue their virtual offerings as long as there is a need.

“While our virtual programs have certainly filled a need for the current environment, nothing can truly replace the experience of hearing music live and in-person. Our hope is to return to offering in-person programming as soon as it is safe and viable to do so,” said Spencer. “A lot of that will depend on the health and safety guidelines at libraries across the state, but when they do begin to open back up, we look forward to sharing live music with all ages. Until then, we will keep the music playing virtually.”

For more information about the N.C. Symphony and their virtual events, visit www.ncsymphony.org/education/. To learn more about this event, as well as other upcoming events hosted by the Watauga County Library, visit www.arlibrary.org/watauga or call (828) 264-8784. The Watauga County Library can also be found on social media at facebook.com/wataugacountylibrary.

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