News Briefs

Harp and Soul visits Killington Elementary School

Anne Janson on the flute and Heidi Soons on the harp, members of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, performed an engaging concert at Killington Elementary School.

By Robin Alberti

KILLINGTON — Harp and Soul came to Killington Elementary School on Monday to entertain and educate students. The musical duo, consisting of Anne Janson on the flute and Heidi Soons on the harp, treated the students at KES to some beautiful music and history of their instruments. Both of these ladies are members of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and were fun and engaging with the children.

They played their instruments, and also showed the students different types of flutes and harps, educating them on the progression of these music makers. The harp that Heidi Soons plays is a 47 string Concert Grand harp. She taught the students the parts of the harp, even grossing them out a little bit when she told them that some of the strings were made from animal guts. Soons used a stick, string and a shoebox to demonstrate to the kids the concept of tension on a string reverberating sound, amplified by the shoebox acting as a sound box. 

Anne Janson shared her flute, and various versions of woodwind instruments that evolved throughout history. The oldest woodwind instrument dates back to 4000 BC, she told the students.

Both women shared why they love their respective instruments, animatedly making the case for which one is better. Janson said that her flute was portable, and explained that she played the melody with her instrument. Soons put on headphones to demonstrate that she felt the flute was to loud and high-pitched, which garnered laughs from the audience. She countered with the fact that the harp could play up to eight notes at a time, but the flute only one. After their animated banter, Soons ended the battle by telling the kids, “There is no ‘better’ instrument, just different.”

The students got to join in the fun, playing rhythm with maracas and tambourines that were handed out, and tapping a beat with their hands and feet. The music spanned a variety of styles; showing the kids how music can change a mood, make you feel like you are in a different country. Instruments in an orchestra even can represent different animals with their varied sounds.

At the end of the assembly, the students asked questions. They wanted to know when the ladies first started playing music. Soons and Janson both answered age 11. They asked why a piano has only three pedals when it has more strings than a harp does, and the harp has more pedals. Soons answered that the pedals on a piano affect the duration of the notes, while the pedals on a harp control the pitch.

The kids were both exposed to great music, and learned a lot in the process.

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