WORTHINGTON — Several dozen area fourth- through sixth-graders were totally tuned in to music at Prairie Elementary’s “Music Explorers Festival” yesterday.

Coordinated by Prairie music instructors Taylor Huwe, Debra Moe and Linda Van Westen, the festival welcomed 75 young musicians for a day bursting with musical exploration and learning.

Participating students, whose music teachers nominated them for attendance, hailed from not only Prairie Elementary and Worthington Middle School but also from St. Mary’s School, Heron Lake Elementary and Round Lake-Brewster Elementary.

“Throughout the festival day, students encountered folk dance, choral music, ukuleles and percussion, with each area taught by a separate clinician,” said Moe.

A culminating concert, which was open to the public, took place in the Prairie gymnasium at 1:45 p.m. Friday. (School was not otherwise in session at Prairie as conferences took place from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)

“The students involved had the opportunity to experience music in a way they wouldn’t in the course of a normal day,” said Moe.

“They were exposed to distinctive genres of music and had the chance to meet other young musicians from the area they wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise met.

“Seeing friendships blossom that are rooted in music is fun to witness.”

Clinicians for the Music Explorers Festival included Sean Benz (vocal/choral), Alex Kisecker (percussion), Huwe (ukulele) and Moe (folk dancing).

“This offered a great opportunity for the students to work within mixed age groups at the various sessions, and to give them time to learn about different musical aspects,” said Huwe.

“For instance, ukuleles are an instrument that a lot of schools in the region have on hand, but they’re not strictly a band or traditional string instrument—and yet, with some basic instruction, kids can maybe pick one up and quickly learn more on their own.”

Van Westen, who assisted with festival organization and logistics, pointed to another benefit.

“It was a big advantage for the students to work with other directors and clinicians who have varied musical specialties,” said Van Westen.

“And music instruction at this level can be a building block for lifelong involvement.”

Added Moe, “My 93-year-old grandma was still able to play the piano even when she had lost the ability to maintain other skills.”

The Music Explorers Festival was made possible in part with a grant from the Worthington Area Foundation and with the support and cooperation of ISD 518 Community Education.