Kalamazoo Kids In Tune

Kalamazoo Kids In Tune

The Kalamazoo Symphony and Kalamazoo Public Schools' after-school music program, Kalamazoo Kids in Tune continues beyond the school year, offering six weeks of summer programming. Artistic director Ben Gudbrandson says it's a time when the skills they built might otherwise get rusty, and just as importantly, kids benefit from the familiar routine of rehearsal and performing. Craig Freeman, a leading brass instructor for KKIT, added a jazz unit to the program this summer, and alongside the orchestra and its chamber ensembles, Kalamazoo Kids in Tune will give two public concerts this week.

On Tuesday, July 16, the orchestra will play at the Portage Public Library at 1 pm - 1:30 pm. On Thursday, July 18, they'll be downtown on the Kalamazoo Mall from 11:45 - 12:15 pm. 


Craig Freeman

Kids and their vivid imaginations are no mystery to Paul Bauer, who grew up with young nieces and nephews, watched his mother run a home daycare, and became a pre-school teacher himself before turning to music full-time. An instructor at Kalamazoo Kids in Tune and at the Crescendo Academy, he's also the drummer for the  local band The Mainstays. Bauer started another project, Small Sounds, a few years ago with his wife, Katrina Davidson. In the studio with Craig Freeman, Bauer and Davidson talk about how they write songs and engage children with their live shows. 

Drawing from a variety of music genres - pop, rock, electronic, and more - Small Sounds released its first album, Good Morning, Sun!, in 2016. In the studio, they play a stripped-down version of "Hey, Alligator!" from that release, and two newer songs, "My Pet Possum," and "Life on the Seven Seas."


C. Lieurance

On a late Tuesday afternoon in February, Cara Lieurance visited Milwood Magnet School, where Kalamazoo Kids in Tune is held four days a week. Young people, in grades 3 through 11, were lugging their instruments down the hall into the band room, finding their seats in what has been called the youngest orchestra in Michigan.

But for the last few weeks, the numbers have skewed older. Many of the kids had their parents with them. Not just to sit and observe; they are playing instruments too, some for the first time, preparing for a public performance at the Epic Center in dowtown Kalamazoo on Mar 1 at 5:30 pm. 

In this audio postcard of a Families In Tune rehearsal, you'll hear the voices of Kids in Tune artistic director Ben Gudbrandson; Duncan Waling and Tobin Waling; Meghan Cook; Jeannie and Natalie Glas, and Heather and Ariana McCord. Kids in Tune has around 80 student participants and is a collaboration between the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Public Schools, and Communities In Schools. 


Kalamazoo Kids In Tune

Kalamazoo Kids in Tune will hold its free Gala Finale from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, at Chenery Auditorium, featuring the youngest symphony orchestra in the state of Michigan. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Liz Youker, Vice President of Education and Community Partnerships with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, highlights some of the program's accomplishments over the last seven years, paying special attention to the contributions of Eric Barth, known to students as "Dr. Rick," who recently stepped down as artistic director. Ahmed Tofiq, who founded Orchestra Rouh as a program for children from refugee families, says the children he teaches have grown in confidence and ability as they practice and perform.

Both Orchestra Rouh and Kalamazoo Kids In Tune will continue their programs this summer, offering music instruction, group activities, and an all-ages event called Community Day.


Colin Howe

Kalamazoo Kids In Tune is the youngest and most diverse orchestra in Michigan, according Elizabeth Youker, Vice President of Education and Community Partnerships, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. She and curriculum director, conductor and music arranger Rick Barth, known to students as "Dr. Rick," talk to Cara Lieurance about the progress made in the last six years. 


Pages