The ‘Musical Circus’ is in town

‘Petting zoo’ will include, violins, flutes and trumpets

September 24, 2009|By Megan O’Neil

Forget about lions, tigers and bears. It will be violins, flutes and trombones at the Musical Circus, an annual youth education program run by the Pasadena Symphony Association.

Musical Circus will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, at The Americana at Brand shopping center in Glendale. Eight subsequent dates have already been scheduled through September 2010. Jerri Price-Gaines, director of education and community engagement for the Pasadena Symphony Association, said the program is designed to expose young children to orchestral instruments and live performance music. The Symphony Association provides a “petting zoo” composed of dozens of string, wind, brass and percussion instruments that attendees are permitted to hold, strum and blow.

“It is a wonderful way to introduce families to the Pasadena Symphony Association,” Price-Gaines said. “We want parents to get their children excited about live concert going and of playing a musical instrument.”


Many child development studies have shown that learning an instrument can have life-long benefits, Price-Gaines said.

“When children start studying a musical instrument, it helps their spatial reasoning skills, it helps with their thinking skills ... and it builds self confidence,” Price-Gaines said. “We have also found that students who learn to play a musical instrument have better social behavior. You have something by which it is not all about you, but you are interacting with other people, you are learning a discipline, there is order.”

In its 20-year history, Price-Gaines said, Musical Circus has been hosted at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium the morning of a symphonic performance. This year, however, the Symphony Association negotiated an agreement with The Americana to use a space directly in front of the shopping center’s centrally located pond. The Musical Circus attracts anywhere from 300 to 500 kids, Price-Gaines said.

Many local musicians credit the Musical Circus with their first foray into orchestral music, Price-Gaines said. One such musician, Pasadena-native Gregory Jefferson, is now an internationally recognized flutist.

The Oct. 4 Musical Circus will be hosted by children’s entertainer Greggy Dee and will include a performance by Enzo Fina, who teaches the creation of music making through storytelling. Fina’s performance will include instruments such as the Brazilian berimbau, water whistles, pan pipe, rubber roarer, jaw harp and recorder.

In addition to Musical Circus, the Pasadena Symphony Association runs several youth and education-focused programs, including the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra and Teaching the Essentials through Music Participation and Observation (TEMPO!).

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