DRUMING UP SOME FUN
Almost 300 students from all over Santa Barbara County gathered for a day of fun at the Music Academy of the West on Monday.
The student visit was organized by the United Way of Santa Barbara County Fun in the Sun program. The kids were able to play games, get their faces painted and experience music on a much more personal level at the Music Academy. This is Fun in the Sun’s 24th year, according to Steve Ortiz, president and CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County.
Students played musical chairs with a live percussion band that played such music as “A Spoonful of Sugar” from “Mary Poppins” and “Do-Re-Mi” from “The Sound of Music.” It was a day of triumph and defeat for many, where only one could be declared the winner.
The other game that students could partake in was the obstacle course, which was dubbed “The Olympics.” Students had to weave in between cones before throwing bean bags in a game of cornhole.
Other students got their faces painted, often choosing mustaches and beards, while others received temporary tattoos on their arms and faces. Students also could draw to their heart’s content and were able to play percussion instruments themselves, such as the drums.
Many students were enthusiastic beginners, when it came to playing instruments.
A photo booth allowed students to document their day with their friends, with one enterprising student placing bunny ears over two of her friends.
Karen Hernandez and Giselle Magdaleno, both 11, from the Camino Fun in the Sun site, told the News-Press they liked the whole experience.
“It’s pretty cool and fun,” Karen said, while Giselle said it was fun to see the friends she made at the other sites. The two also made new friends playing the morning games.
Araceli Huerta, a team leader who helped lead the Camino site, had her first experience and praised her kids.
“They’re a good batch of kids,” she said.
At 11:30 a.m. the students lined up for a concert from Up Close and Musical in Hahn Hall. The musicians were led by Seattle Symphony’s principal percussionist, Michael Werner. This was the eighth year Up Close and Musical has done this concert.
The performance included a song involving only triangles called “Escape” and a musician duo recreating a Chinese opera with Chinese instruments in a song titled “Impressions of Chinese Opera.”
There was also a lot of student participation, with students helping to recreate a thunderstorm with only their hands.
The concert emphasized that anything could become a percussion instrument. A stack of magazines and a plastic bag could recreate a drum set. A stack of cards could become an instrument, with the musicians demonstrating that with a grand performance that ended with them throwing the cards up in the air.
Perhaps the most dazzling spectacle of the early afternoon concert was when the lights were turned off and the musicians banged glow sticks against Home Depot buckets. Resembling blue and red lightsabers, the rhythmic beat of these colorful sticks against the orange buckets was a spectacular view.
Mr. Werner advised the students to try percussion by using things they found at home and joked that it would become their parents’ favorite thing to hear.
The visit was sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust.
“They’re really instrumental for the financial components of this program,” Mr. Ortiz said. “The Fun in the Sun program would not be possible without our collaboration with the Montecito Bank & Trust, the Music Academy nor the 70 plus partners.
“I think it’s an awesome experience. It will open their minds to new opportunities and expand their horizons. It shows that this [music] is a potential path forward,” Mr. Ortiz said.