Toddlers clutching their parents’ hands and children touting toy instruments marched along with the Northwestern University Marching Band on Saturday morning, continuing the Bienen School of Music’s tradition of a Kids Fare series.
“March with the Band,” held at Welsh-Ryan Arena, was the first of six events Bienen is hosting this school year. The Kids Fare events promote music and reach out to the community.
“We’ve done Kids Fare every year for, gosh, I don’t know,” band director Dan Farris said. “This is my 13th year and my 13th Kids Fare.”
Farris said the event is usually popular. This year, parents and children filled three sections of the arena.
“They’ve never seen a band perform live,” Evanston resident Lois Shelgren said of her 2- and 4-year-old granddaughters. “We thought it would be fun experience for them.”
The performance included a Jersey Boys medley and solos from each of the band sections, with breaks in between to teach the audience the “Push On” cheer and the claw.
Communication sophomore Charlie Scott, a member of NUMB, said he especially enjoyed when the band broke off into sections to talk to the children about specific instruments.
“We blew through our horns and let the kids push the keys,” Scott said.
Other sections allowed children to practice twirling flags and try on their shakos, the tall hats that are part of the band’s uniform.
Northwestern alumna Julie Beardsley, who attended the event with her husband and two daughters, said her 3-year-old daughter Molly “loved it.”
“I think she was a little mesmerized at first.” Beardsley said. “She was just staring at everything, but after a while she really got into it.”
Though the audience was a bit smaller than the crowds of football fans NUMB usually performs for at Ryan Field, Scott said he likes putting on a show geared specifically toward a young audience.
“Even if we don’t influence kids to come study music at Northwestern specifically, I just love having the opportunity to promote music in general,” Scott said. “Plus, the kids are adorable.”
The next Kids Fare event, which will feature the Northwestern University Brass Ensemble, will be Nov. 17 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.