LOU Symphony Treats Second-Graders to ‘Peter and the Wolf’

Show helps introduce children to orchestra while complementing other subjects

Second-grade students from Lafayette County and Oxford schools experience their own private concert as the LOU Symphony Orchestra presents Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at the UM Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Second-grade students from Lafayette County and Oxford schools experienced their own private symphony concert Monday (Oct. 1) when the LOU Symphony Orchestra presented Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“We had a ball with the students,” said orchestra director Selim Giray, a UM assistant professor of music. “Prokofiev intended this music to tell a story and to show off the qualities of various instruments, which makes it a wonderful piece to enjoy with young students.”

Music teachers Natalie Lewellen, from Oxford Elementary School, and Rayanne Adams, at Lafayette Elementary School, prepared students for the concert ahead of time.

Students at LES have been learning about composers and instruments, and even made their own instruments to play in the Lafayette homecoming parade. Oxford students discussed the story of “Peter and the Wolf” and its characters’ instruments, and reviewed good audience etiquette.

The concert supported other subjects in the curriculum besides music.

“In our English language arts collaborative classroom, second-graders have been learning about folk tales and how there are life lessons to be learned from reading this literature,” said Sandy Brown, second-grade chair at LES.

“Peter and the Wolf” supports both the music and language arts curricula by demonstrating how music can tell a story – in this case, a traditional folk tale like those the students have been studying in class.

Alex Urbina (right), a UM graduate student and section leader in the LOU Symphony Orchestra, lets Oxford second-graders get a close-up view of his playing during a special presentation of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“An educational concert such as ‘Peter and the Wolf’ builds skills in many subject areas,” Lewellen said. “Sergei Prokofiev, a musical composer from Russia, introduces the instruments of the orchestra to children by using literature for children in a fun and interesting way, and so directly relates to subjects such as math, literature and history.”

Guest conductor Mark Laycock and narrator Bradley Robinson also got a kick out of the students’ reactions.

“I always enjoy being part of the symphony’s student concerts,” said Robinson, UM associate professor of music, who joked around with students before the concert and fielded questions about the instruments.

“The kids today were well-prepared and engaged; they were asking smart questions about what they saw on stage, and many were even conducting from their seats during the performance.”

While some students loved Peter best for vanquishing the evil wolf, others took a different view of the show’s bad boy.

“My favorite character was the wolf,” said Kaylee Malloy, a student in Simsie Shaw’s second-grade class at OES. “I sometimes like the bad people in the story because they’re more interesting.”

Classmate Bryars Pittman agreed: “I liked the cat because it was a little bit sneaky.”

The LOU Symphony Orchestra includes Ole Miss students and faculty, and community members. Its next outing is a holiday concert slated for Dec. 1.