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Band of brothers fostering a love for music

A student displays his musical abilities while practicing piano in the Music Center. Photo by: Hunter Pariseau | Torch Photographer

Ferris integrative studies senior and Kappa Kappa Psi President Benjamin Withey celebrates Big Rapids’ Festival of the Arts by giving children a chance to fall in love with music.

Withey is part of an honorary band fraternity that will be hosting the Musical Instrument Petting Zoo in celebration of the month-long Festival of the Arts in Big Rapids. The Festival of the Arts consists of a series of entertainment, educational and cultural events that are offered daily throughout the month of February.

“The event is about fostering a love of music in kids who may not get that opportunity otherwise,” Withey said. “It’s especially cool this year because the February concert that is put on by the band is a children’s concert and we’re using the instruments that they can see beforehand.”

The petting zoo will have instruments dressed up to simulate being at an actual zoo, with multiple musical instrument stations ranging from woodwind instruments to brass and percussion.

“You’ll see a trombone with zebra paper around it to make it more fun for the kids. One year we did a scavenger, so if all the little kids go around and play all the instruments, and get a stamp at the table, they get a goodie bag as a prize,” Withey said.

Ferris Kappa Kappa Psi members will be at every table to help people learn about the instruments and guests will have a chance to play them.

“Every single instrument we have available at the Music Center we try and bring,” Withey said. “We make sure that they’re clean and playable so that all the little kids get to play everything ranging from the trombone or the maracas.”

Though the event is directed towards children, anybody is welcome. Ferris Director of Instrumental Concert Ensembles, Director of the Humanities Department and Kappa Kappa Psi co-adviser Dr. Richard Cohen hopes that events like the petting zoo can help inspire people of all ages.

“It’s possible that this event could inuence people to try and play a certain instrument. We could be helping to establish a new generation of band musicians,” Cohen said.

Ferris plastics and polymer engineering technology junior and Kappa Kappa Psi Vice President Jared Kughn looks forward to the event and enjoys the opportunity to teach.

“I think it’s important just because the fact that you get to teach younger kids, kids your age and even adults,” Kughn said. “You’ve got people who are coming in with their grandkids and they’ll be like ‘How do you play that?’”

The Musical Instrument Petting Zoo is open to all members of the community and will take place 2 — 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, in Williams Auditorium, with a children’s band concert following 4 — 5:15 p.m.