It’s a small (musical) world

It’s easy to drive my husband bonkers. Just hum a few bars of “It’s a Small World” from the Disneyland ride that once featured teacups. But the song came to mind today as I was exploring the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

MIM Iraq Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I’d been invited to attend an early morning kick-off event for the musuem’s education/school tour program — which culminated with MIMers greeting children piling out of their big yellow school bus for the museum’s first school tour.

I arrived early and chatted with various MIMers before taking a seat at what ended up being a table full of delightful MIM volunteers — a new grandma, a mother of two grown children, a woman who shared some of her best tips from a parenting group she’d attended many years ago and a charming man with a small Canon camera.

MIM Roma Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

Turns out the gentleman was John Friedman, father of Daniel Friedman — who writes the daily “DYK?” gems you find on the RAK homepage and takes truly amazing photographs. I got the inside scoop on how Daniel came to love taking pictures — something about his parents giving him a camera as he set out on a bike ride through Europe as a teen.

I mentioned that my children attended the same elementary school as Daniel and Lisa’s children — and their grandpa was happy to catch me up on their latest adventures. Seems his grandson, who was playing music at a young age, is still going strong with his instrument. His grandaughter will soon return from spending several years in China, where I’m told she has taken some photos that may well be even better than her dad’s. I don’t think Daniel will mind.

MIM Orchestra Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I shared my growing conviction that students need more time for world travels (with camera and journal in hand), and Friedman noted that travel within the U.S. can be just as valuable. I realize this is unlikely for most given economic and other factors, but am so grateful the MIM is here so we can all explore the world’s music, culture, history and religion without leaving the Valley.

I started a mental list of all the Valley resources I wish had been around when my children were wee ones –the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Musical Instrument Museum among them. I never met a museum I didn’t like, and am delighted about the many Arizona museums that offer fun and educational experiences for our children and teens.

MIM Chile Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I’ll share more details about MIM education/school tour offerings in another post. For today let me simply share that I shadowed one of the two small groups who toured the museum today — and that the children (who looked like middle schoolers) were wildly excited to be there and had hands-on experiences I feel certain will stay with them for a lifetime.

The docent who led the tour I shadowed did a marvelous job of engaging and interacting with students — making art and culture, history and religion come alive. He was a smart and unassuming man who didn’t let on during the tour that he’s actually a longtime collector of instruments.

Portion of MIM China Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

I learned from Sarah Weber, education manager at the MIM, that he’s a doctor who routinely travels the globe with the World Health Organization. This cements something I have long suspected. If you want to find fascinating folks, hit the MIM. You can’t walk more than ten feet inside this temple to our common humanity without finding a story.

As it happens, my plans for the afternoon included talking by phone with storyteller Bill Harley, who will perform “songs and stories for everybody” at the MIM Music Theater on Sunday, Oct 24, at 2:30pm. Harley is a “playful Grammy award-winning musician, storyteller, author and playwright” who “appeals to parents and children alike.”

MIM Greece/Cypress Exhibit (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

The fact that he’s warm, funny and brilliant can’t hurt. Watch for a future post with Harley’s thoughts on storytelling in the modern world. Also watch for a post about the music program at Shadow Mountain High School. The school had a lovely string quartet playing at the Wednesday morning event. There’s a story there too.

I’m becoming a bit of a MIM-rat at this point, but it’s all good. When I’m at the MIM, whether for business or pleasure, I feel that the world is at once intimate and expansive. And I’m thrilled that Target’s generous gift to the MIM will allow more Valley children to discover that despite our many differences, the planet we all call home is truly a small world after all.

–Lynn

Note: Having never met a museum gift shop I didn’t like, I dropped by the MIM gift shop on my way out. My most recent fun finds include a washboard tie (fun, easy, unique Halloween costume), silver charms (all sorts of music and instrument themes — for men and women of all ages) and hip wallets made of eco-friendly material (I bought the one with the sheet music motif).

Coming up: Arts experiences for homeschoolers and unschoolers, Valley theaters offering holiday fare, The fine art of Winnie the Pooh

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