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School News Network: Comstock Park Percussion

Bill Vits, principal percussionist with the Grand Rapids Symphony photo
School News Network

Comstock Park third graders had the chance to hear how 40 percussion instruments can come together in harmony. The musical zoo was courtesy of the Grand Rapids Symphony.

About 140 third graders from Comstock Park’s Pine Island Elementary School visited Celebration Cinema North recently to watch a live performance by Bill Vits, principal percussionist with the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Vits plays from a collection of 40 percussion instruments that includes a set of bones, dried gourds, a conga drum, a xylophone and a Theramin, an electronic instrument that responds to his hand motions.

The performance was part of a comprehensive music awareness program that begins in early elementary grades with performances by the symphony and the Grand Rapids Ballet.

In the fourth grade, symphony members come to the schools and offer an “instrument petting zoo” in which students can learn what it’s like to blow into a clarinet, play a drum or draw a bow across a string instrument.

By the fifth grade, students are ready to choose an instrument if they want to continue studying music.

This is James Harger, reporting for the School News Network