Curious Inspiration

by Helen Tipton                    

 4th Graders from Spartanburg County at Spartanburg Philharmonic’s LINK UP concert

4th Graders from Spartanburg County at Spartanburg Philharmonic’s LINK UP concert

When it comes to musical instruments and children, curiosity is never in short supply.  Here are five ways to move your child from curiosity to connoisseur:

Hands On

Find ways for your child to experiment with musical instruments. In Spartanburg, SC, Converse College (Delta Omicron chapter) hosts an event for children ages 3-10 called “Instrument Petting Zoo,” where kids can try their hand at various types of instruments.  Also, Grandma’s piano, Uncle John’s old guitar, or an inexpensive harmonica are great ways for children to experiment a little bit.

Culture Club

Help kids experience music with their friends!  Spartanburg Philharmonic’s Heroes and Villains is the next (and perfect) opportunity for children in our community to hear great music in an environment that is welcoming and fun.  They may shock you with their astute observations and will surely find unintended humor as the audience will wear capes and masks.  Dinner and a concert is a super change of pace for our screen-watching kids. 

Eye Spy

There are many online ways to explore instruments, and our children are very adept at navigating websites. One of my favorite websites for younger children (ages 5-12) is: are animal avatars which act as guides to take kids through the site to explore instruments, conducting, and more.  Another favorite is the NPR series which showcases talented kids’ performances and life stories.

The Long Game

Learning to create music is so GOOD for the development of the human brain.  You don’t have to be a musician yourself to help your child get the benefits from an early age. Sing their favorite tunes, clap simple little rhythms for your child to imitate, or make up silly songs.  Starting early is the key to a lifelong love of music.

Armed and Dangerous

Enroll your child in music lessons! Local colleges, established studios, professional musicians, and music stores are all great places to get started. Weekly instruction with a qualified teacher is the path to success here, as the fine motor skills take time to master.  Music educators are passionate about finding ways to keep the curiosity going, and give children the gift that keeps on giving- MUSIC!


Helen Tipton serves on the Board of Directors for the Spartanburg Philharmonic and is Chair of the Spartanburg Philharmonic’s Education Committee. Helen and her team blog here once a month on Music Education to help other Music Educators, parents and students. Missed a blog? Simply click on the “Music Education Series” tag on the right column of our main blog page. Contributing Music Educators include Maggie Haggerty, Shelby Dickey, Janet Kuntz, Kelsey Grant and Jenny Shanks Nichols.

Review: 90th Season Celebration Concert

by Madison Cooksey


The Spartanburg Philharmonic had a lively 90th birthday celebration. The event consisted of five pieces that were all written over ninety years ago. All of the pieces were enjoyed by the audience and left them wanting to hear more. The five pieces were not only beautiful but were played with a lot of passion. Along with the exceptional orchestra, the new conductor Stefan Sanders portrayed his love of music through his movements and emotions. For example, when the songs were quiet, he was crouched down exaggerating what he was trying to portray to the audience. Mr. Sanders was also very outgoing and cracking jokes as he was talking to the audience.

            The talented musicians were also very exaggerated in their movements, as you could tell they were ecstatic to be there performing. The orchestra members would sway back and forth so you could tell that they were enjoying the beautiful music that they were creating.

            My favorite pieces from the show were Rhapsody in Blue and Boléro. I enjoyed Rhapsody in Blue because I thought that the pianist was amazing. It was so neat to see that he had memorized a sixteen-minute song and had many different techniques like having his hands crossed over one another. I enjoyed Boléro because I thought that it was cool how the instruments were played in alternative ways. For example, the violins playing their instruments like a ukulele. I also enjoyed how as the song went on, it gradually got louder, and how the snare drum played the same rhythm over and over again throughout the whole piece.

            After the main concert everyone gathered for a 90th birthday celebration reception. We celebrated with cake and were able to meet Mr. Sanders along with the rest of the orchestra. I would like to thank them for this experience that was incredibly beautiful.


Madison is a student at McCracken Middle School and plays violin in the orchestra under the direction of March Moody.

Rachel HansenReviews, Classics