NEW BRITAIN - As visitors viewed art on the walls, the sounds of violins, tambourines and trombones filled the halls of the New Britain Museum of American Art Sunday morning.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra held an Instrument Petting Zoo for a couple of hours before a Mother’s Day performance by a jazz quartet of HSO musicians.
“It’s was a neat activity for Mother’s Day because it’s very child friendly, and for moms and dads to come in with their children and be able to make music together,” said Miriam Engel, the museum’s assistant manager of education and community engagement. “It’s a cool way to give kids the opportunity to try instruments. Some of them are about to be in the grade where they’ll choose instruments for their band or orchestra class.”
Three tables were set up on the main floor, with one for strings, one percussion, and a third for brass, wind and woodwind instruments.
Guestss could go around and pick up instruments and check them out, much like at a petting zoo, at which people can go around and touch the animals.
“It was a nice opportunity for her to try out some different things,” said James Hoebel, a music teacher from Portland who was with his 2-year-old daughter Lizzie and others.
“She didn’t want to leave,” he added. Lizzie looked to have played everything on the percussion table.
“You have to experiment with the angle,” said the overseer of the brass and wind table as John and Nancy Silander inquired about playing the flute.
“This is complicated,” said John Silander.
The two came from Storrs to see an exhibit at the museum, so the chance to play some musical notes of their own was an added attraction, they said.
“It’s great. You don’t get a chance to do this sort of stuff,” said John Silander. “You look back and think about this opportunity as a child thinking about ‘What am I going to play?’ And I wasn’t given much choice, I was handed a clarinet. This actually is an opportunity, that we don’t really have, to try out different instruments.”
“It also gives you a respect for the guys who play it,” said Nancy Silander.
She said she used to play piano but the two are now listeners to classical, jazz and ethnic music.
Also at the museum to check out the art were Su Lin Han and her daughter, Nikki Pet, from Glastonbury.
“It’s super fun,” said Pet, 20, a clarinet player. “I never get to see strings and percussion, other than (through) friends. This is more casual.”
“This is one of the coolest museums,” said Han, adding that she finds the art in the community oriented museum approachable and not pretentious.
Modern art can be “weird” sometimes, she said, so she prefers the New Britain collection over even those of larger museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, which her daughter recently visited.
“It’s very nice to have the symphony come out here and do this,” she said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.