A Publication of WTVP

The latest event to hit Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences—“Elvis Meets Einstein: A Mostly Music Adventure in Sound”—is likely to draw crowds of all ages. But it’s just one exhibit among many events and programs geared toward getting children involved in the arts.

“’Elvis Meets Einstein’ is the type of exhibition parents love,” said Kathleen Woith, vice president of communications and community relations. “It combines education and entertainment, but children don’t realize they may be learning something while they sing, drum, play musical creations, walk through a giant guitar, pick a song from a 12-foot-tall jukebox, conduct a symphony, and even vote on their favorite kind of music.”

The exhibition, open through May 4, brings another aspect of art to Lakeview Museum—performing art. “While visitors are used to seeing landscapes on the walls, artifacts in cases, or hands-on activities in the Discovery Center, something different is wafting through the galleries: music. And not just one kind of music, but everything from Beethoven to the Beetles,” she said.

“Elvis Meets Einstein” explores the art and science of sound and music, Woith said, making a partnership with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra a natural fit in giving children exposure to different instruments. “Members of the orchestra and special guests demonstrate how the four sections of the orchestra make music. March 27 is percussion, April 9 is woodwinds, and May 1 is brass. The events take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the museum, and admission is free for Lakeview Museum members or with a gallery admission.”

The components of the exhibition include a Music Lab, World Club, Conservatory, and Center Stage, Woith said. “The music lab lets you experience the physics of music as you walk into a guitar, strike a conga drum, and play with different sized tubes and strings to find out how sound travels and how sound and shape relate. The Resonance Tube shows how each wind instrument has its own unique wave fingerprint. You can play Mozart on the Melody Makers by plucking a stringed instrument, exploring the way in which a limited number of pitches can be used to create an unlimited variety of melodies.”

She said music lovers can step into the World Club and experience how music enriches our history and affects our daily life, as well as our perception of events. “Choose global selections from the World Jukebox, join a band, and play an instrument without touching it. From Albania to Zambia, rap to reggae, music is truly a universal language, and the giant jukebox is full of music from different eras and countries. Kitchen musicians can tap on water glasses, pots, and pans to make improvisational music.”

Clinically inclined visitors to the Conservatory explore works by Beethoven and other famous composers, as well as compose their own music on a computer, learn about instruments and classical music on a CD-ROM, and even conduct a symphony, Woith said. “The Halls of Instruments let you get up close with an assortment of real instruments in a delightful display encouraging appreciation of the variety within instrument families. A score, headphones, and a baton let you conduct a symphony, and panels explain how to read a score and give simple conducting patterns. With the help of a Musical Instrument Digital Interface application, you can use your own sequence or prerecorded selections to produce unique compositions and hear it played by instruments you select.”

Almost everyone listens to music, but few actually create it. Woith said Center Stage is a golden opportunity for kids—and adults—to be stars with karaoke and electric and acoustic instruments. “Little ones can make their own beautiful music with music-makers created just for them. Experiment with the softer sounds produced by a selection of beautiful wooden instruments in Acoustic Jam. The special area for Rhythm Kids encourages preschoolers to explore their own musical talents. And the soundproof booth lets even the most shy singer belt out a song or two.”

In addition to the “Elvis Meets Einstein” exhibition currently at the museum, Lakeview has implemented a variety of art classes for children. “Spring Museum School classes, beginning March 24, offer a great enhancement to the learning process,” said Museum School Manager Ann Petta.

Classes are usually offered in the spring, summer, fall, and winter, with occasional mini-courses at other times, Petta said. “Kids as young as five can take a class this spring. Occasionally, those as young as two can find something for them during the year. The March session includes secret formulas and mystery lab workshops, mixed media, owl pellet study, ceramics, chess, cartooning, and drawing for kids.”

Museum classes are offered seven days a week at various times from 3 to 6:30 p.m. during the week and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, she said, with minimal outside-of-class activity. “Classes meet weekly for one to two hours depending on the class or workshop. The length of a class ranges from one week for a workshop to seven weeks for a drawing or ceramics class. Currently, the only class that requires outside work is drawing. Students are given professional drawing pads to use in class and to take home for practice.”

Petta said in addition to the general classes offered in art and science, classes related to almost all of Lakeview’s exhibits are developed and offered each session. “My inspiration for the arts classes comes from many areas including exhibits, instructors, original ideas, co-workers, and parents. Classes are developed to be unique, educational, and fun. I consider the ideas and interests of my own children—ages eight, five, and three—along with feedback and suggestions from the community.”

Lakeview has offered programming for kids since it opened its doors in 1965, and its Museum School has a strong following. Petta said it isn’t unusual to see the same families taking classes each session. “Drawing and ceramics continue to be very popular, and there seems to be a growing need for classes offered to young children, ages two to five.”

She said Lakeview finds classroom teachers in a variety of ways. “People contact the Museum to ask about becoming an instructor, while others are recommended and contacted by me. I work with them to develop a class in art or science that fits their abilities, preference of ages, interests, and availability. Interviews, evaluations, classroom observations, and, most importantly, community feedback help ensure our instructors are highly professional, innovative, and enthusiastic individuals.”

For more information about exhibits and classes, call 686-7000. AA!