School of Music caters to kids

By Gus Bode

Parents searching for ways to entertain toddlers could try pacifiers, Tickle-Me-Elmos and a brass quintet that plays “Hey Jude.”

About 100 newborn to 5-year-old children listened, clapped, and danced as the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra brass quintet played Tuesday during Klassics for Kids, a monthly program that allows young children to experience live classical and jazz music.

The program, which was created three years ago by symphony director Edward Benyas and his wife, Kara, features concerts by both student and professional musicians.


Children sing, listen to a variety of music and learn about instruments, Kara Benyas said.

“We’ve had really great attendance and the kids are taken in; it’s something new,” she said. “A lot of them have never seen the instruments that are there and usually they’re just kind of in awe of what they see and hear.”

Tuesday’s concert featured five members of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra performing “Amazing Grace,” a medley of Beatles’ songs and selections from the opera “Carmen.”

Some parts of the performance were interactive.

Jered Montgomery, a senior from Mulkeytown studying trumpet performance, instructed the children to march during parts of the opera and clap during “Hey Jude.”

“I had a blast,” Montgomery said. “I think it’s a great thing that Ed and Kara Benyas put together to introduce kids to what they might not be exposed to on a daily basis.”

Benyas said she and her husband were inspired to start the program three years ago. They wanted to expose their daughter, who was 2-years-old at the time, to live music but could only find evening performances.


As a solution, they organized Klassics for Kids.

Concerts take place one Tuesday each month at 10 a.m. in Altgeld Hall. Performers may be professional or students from the School of Music. Different types of music are played at each concert.

Christina Cannova of Carbondale said she has brought her two daughters since the program started.

The girls, ages 2 and 5, look forward to the concerts each month and want to play instruments one day, Cannova said.

Community support for the program has been overwhelming, Benyas said.

“We’ll just be out eating or something, and people will come up to us and say, ‘Thank you for putting this program on,'” Benyas said.

Montgomery said he thought the program was a good way to correct misperceptions of classical music.

“Classical music is for everyone. It doesn’t have to be for rich patrons,” Montgomery said. “It can be for common people too, and through experiences like this, we try to tell people about that.”

Daily Egyptian reporter Allison Petty can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 259 or [email protected]