Quad City Symphony Orchestra Offers Instrument Petting Zoo at Mercado
A disgruntled conductor might say leading an orchestra is like herding cats. In a new partnership, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra is bringing an “Instrument Petting Zoo” to Mercado on Fifth in downtown Moline, starting Friday, July 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“The QCSO has been really doubling down on our private lesson effort and group lesson effort,” Marc Zyla, the orchestra’s director of education & community engagement, personnel manager and principal horn player, said Wednesday. The QCSO has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley, and the weekly Mercado on Fifth Avenue (in the area of 11th-12th streets) is right outside the Ontiveros Teen Center, so it made sense to bring musicians out to help spark musical curiosity among families attending the free Friday events.
QCSO cellist Elisabeth Oar and violinist Carolyn Van De Velde – who both teach in the private lesson program – will be at Mercado Friday night, letting visitors hold a violin and cello from West Music, another orchestra partner, Zyla said.
“That’s our main focus, just to get out in the community and get instruments in people’s hands,” he said. “If you’d like to learn to play, we have people to teach you.”
The orchestra has 28 instructors for private lessons – on violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone/euphonium, saxophone, tuba, percussion, and harp. Oar offers small group cello lessons, and Van De Velde and Sabrina Tabby are being trained to offer group violin lessons, Zyla said.
In addition to offering group lessons at Boys and Girls Clubs in Moline and Davenport, the program will be at Jefferson Elementary in Milan, and classes for 3 and 4-year-olds at Bettendorf’s Family Museum starting in the fall, he said.
Lessons are offered at varying fee levels, set by the teachers, and the QCSO offers financial aid if needed, Zyla said.
“The QCSO is very committed to fundraising for financial aid,” he said, noting the Morency Family Foundation has been very supportive for the lesson programs.
Private instructors not only give students weekly instruction on how to improve musicianship and technical ability, but they also serve as trusted guides through various activities such as audition preparation, searching for the right college, and instrument purchase, according to the orchestra. The QCSO has played an active role in providing these services to the community for decades and the QCSO Private Lesson Program matches students of all ages and ability levels with highly qualified instructors for weekly lessons at locations around the Q-C area.
The Instrument Petting Zoo will be at Mercado in Moline Fridays, July 2, 23 and 30th (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.) and the new Mercado in downtown Davenport on July 10, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. This is not the QCSO’s first partnership with Mercado – which aims to highlight Hispanic food, culture, entertainment and small businesses in the area.
The orchestra presented the Pixar film “Coco” in Concert, with live orchestral accompaniment, in January 2020 at Davenport’s Adler Theatre for two performances.
Through partnerships with Mercado on Fifth, Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Figge Art Museum, the Adler and RiverCenter were transformed into the Land of the Dead with special pre-show activities including performances from Ballet Folklorico and Glenview Middle School Mariachi Band.
For more information on the QCSO private lesson program, visit https://qcso.org/education/private-lesson-program/.