Tag Archives: music museums

Of treadmills and thumb pianos

My friends at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix know I never met a musical instrument I didn’t like. So when they shared news of upcoming events for kids, I got right to work.

I tried hair dye. Wrinkle cream. Time on the treadmill. Even painting on a pair of jeggings. Everything short of Botox or scratching the year of birth off my drivers license like it was a lottery ticket.

But all to no avail. I can’t pass for 12 any more than I can play the Taiko drums. Pity, really, because if I was just a wee bit younger, I’d be able to get my hot little hands on those Taiko drums at the MIM this summer.

I did a bit of drumming during my first tour of the MIM Experience Gallery, where kids of all ages can play all sorts of musical instruments

The “Summer Series for Kids at MIM” kicks off June 4 with “Apache Gourd Rattles, Song and Storytelling” with Tony Duncan and his father Ken, who’ll help kids learn about Apache culture. The event is open to children ages 6-11, who’ll learn how to make their own Apache gourd rattles.

Taiko Drumming” for ages 12-16 takes place June 18. Eileen Morgan will “teach teens about the history of Taiko drums, the significance of Japanese music, and how they can express themselves through music.” Sounds perfect for teens who think music is all about hoarding the most digital downloads.

Kuniko Yamamoto: Japanese Origami and Music” for ages 6-11 is scheduled for June 19. Japanese musician and artist Kunito Yamamoto will “teach kids about Japanese origami and culture” and perform for them on flute and koto. Families can enjoy her concert at the MIM later that afternoon (at additional cost).

This portion of a MIM exhibit always reminds me of time my daughter Lizabeth spent learning and performing flamenco with the School of Ballet Arizona

Flamenco!” with Lena and Chris Burton takes place July 9. A younger group (ages 6-11) will “learn basic flamenco dancing patterns and vocabulary” and teens (ages 12-16) will “learn in-depth about flamenco and visit the MIM galleries to learn about gypsy culture.”

Burton Jacome hails from Mesa, where hometown fans are surely celebrating news of his recent win in the “World” category of “The John Lennon Songwriting Contest” for 2010. The winning work, “Ritmo-Canix,” is on his latest CD, titled “Levanto.”

The Roma exhibit at the MIM helps museum-goers learn more about gypsy culture

The “MIM Summer Series for Kids” wraps up with “Kalimba Magic” with Mark Holdaway, who’ll teach kids ages 6-11 about kalimbas (thumb pianos) and African culture — using the instrument to tell a story and showing kids how to make kid-friendly kalimbas.

My thumbs feel a little neglected at the end of the day since they rarely get quality time with anything other than the space bar on my laptop. I may have to revisit our family collection of thumb pianos. I suspect they’ve been feeling neglected too.

Christopher recognized this thumb piano during his first trip to the MIM because we've got a lovely collection of them at home

Sorry, treadmill. Looks like you’ll have to wait…

— Lynn

Note: Please visit the MIM website for important details and registration information — and check out upcoming offerings in the MIM Music Theater, home to both a “2011 Summer Series” and a “2011-2012 Concert Season” (plus film selections and more). While you’re at the MIM, you can find thumb pianos and other fun fare at the MIM Museum Store.

Coming up: Art meets autism

Photos (except the one she’s in) by Lynn Trimble


J is for Jersey — and Juneau

“Alaskan Fiddling Poet” Ken Waldman, who’ll be performing at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix next weekend, does plenty of traveling as a sort of modern day troubador.

I’ll bet Waldman didn’t expect to be in New Jersey late last week – but he was a stowaway of sorts as I traveled to the East Coast with one of my daughters.

When I went to rev up my laptop, I discovered Waldman’s bright green “D is for Dog Team” CD inside.

I’d listened to several of his CDs, and read two of his books, just a few weeks before. He was kind enough to send them my way so I could get a feel for his work before he hits the Valley with his family-friendly blend of music, poetry and storytelling.

One book, a memoir titled “Are You Famous?,” is a detailed read standing in sharp contrast to the mini-memoirs I write in many of my posts. Perhaps he’s not ready to accept rumors of readers’ shortening attention spans. Or maybe he just gives people more credit than most.

Waldman’s “D is for Denali” — featuring Alaskan acrostics from A to Z — is more my style. There’s “A is for Avalanche,” “I is for Iditarod,” “R is for Reindeer” and more.

It reminds me of the years I spent living in Anchorage — and my mom’s brother Bob, who lived with his family in Juneau.

Its development was “made possible in part through a grant from the New Jersey-based Puffin Foundation” — an organization dedicated to “continuing the dialogue between art and the lives of ordinary people.”

The name of the non-profit caught my eye because my daughter Jennifer, who’ll turn 20 this week, was quite the puffin fan during childhood.

Animals are a common subject in Waldman’s works. The “D is for Dog Team” CD includes “Stubborn Old Mule,” “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground,” “Duck River” and several other selections.

Another offering — a pair of CDs titled “All Originals, All Traditionals” — features one CD with 28 instrumentals and another with fiddle tunes and poems.

When you open the packaging, you see a poem titled “Suffering Democracy” — one of my favorite little gems from Waldman’s world.

Head to the Musical Instrument Museum this Friday (April 29) at 4pm for “Experience the Music: Ken Waldman and Poetry and Storytelling for Kids.” The event, designed for kids ages 4-8 (with a parent), is just $15/child.

Waldman also performs a series of three free events at the MIM on Saturday, April 30. Other MIM activities that weekend include “Listen to the World” — a celebration of the museums’s first anniversary, complete with music, dance and workshops.

If “M is for Moose Pass” — then “MIM” is for music, imagination and memories. It’s unlikely you’ll see a moose around these parts. But thanks to the MIM — music exhibits, performance and education are always available right here in Arizona.

Now if only I could get New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen to pay a visit to the MIM…

— Lynn

Note: Waldman is currently a featured poet on the website for “49 Writers,” an Alaskan non-profit supporting writers and their work. Click here to learn more.

Coming up: Costume shop treasures

Meet me at the MIM!

Organ from MIM collection

Think museums are boring, snobbish or anything but cool?

Think again.

The new Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is exciting, welcoming and seriously hip.

Need a reason to explore the MIM? I’ve got ten of them…

Martin guitar exhibit at MIM

  1. The museum grounds. Spaces surrounding the museum appear to have been planned just as precisely and passionately as those within the museum. Approaching the museum enhanced my appreciation for the desert’s native plants as art—and worthy complements to the architecture that instills a sense of tranquility amidst anticipation.
  2. Audio and video technology. Many exhibits feature a flat-screen video component showing the sights and sounds of displayed instruments “as experienced in their cultures of origin.” Headphones issued to guests (at no extra charge) play the accompanying sound for each video without the need to push pesky buttons that hinder immersion in so many visuals arts collections.
  3. The collateral collection. I believe one of the curators called it “regalia”—it’s all those fabulous items that accompany the musical instruments, such as clothing specific to cultures or associated with particular styles of music. These elements help place the instruments within their cultural context.
  4. The artist gallery. This area features “instruments linked to world-renowned musicians”—plus concert footage, photos, costumes and other “special items.” Highlights will include the piano John Lennon used while composing “Imagine,” one of the enormous drums played during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and more.
  5. A myriad of musical genres. While four of the five “geo-galleries” feature instruments by country, the United States/Canada gallery features 36 displays focused on traditional and popular sounds from the Arctic to the Mexican border (including hip hop). Eight displays spotlight the music of native peoples—featuring instruments such as the water drum, raven rattle and Apache violin.
  6. The museum store. This is the perfect place to find unique teacher gifts. If there were apples in the MIM museum store, I missed them. But everything else is there—clothing, jewelry, books, children’s activities, unique DVDs and CDs, foreign language learning tools and more. Their selection of “Magnetic Poetry” kits alone left me giddy.
  7. The music theater. The MIM touts its intimate, comfy environment with “superb acoustics”—noting that the venue spans two floors of the museum with spacious seating for 299 people. Scheduled weekday evening performers include Nation Beat, Pnina Becher, King Sunny Ade & His African Beats, and Cimarron. Watch for weekend events in my weekly Friday posts on Valley arts offerings.
  8. An experience gallery. This is a hands-on space where guests can play many of the types of instruments they have seen throughout the museum. I didn’t “go there” during the media tour for fear I’d linger too long and leave my children wondering if it might be time to call in a missing person report. I feel the same way about shoe shops.
  9. The “something for everyone” factor. It’s a dream destination for school field trips and play dates. A romantic venue for date nights. A relaxing place to gather with friends. A jewel to crown the adventures of visiting friends or relatives. A place to find fellow folks on the fun and funky side.
  10. There’s more to come. A visit today will introduce you to less than a third of the MIM’s exhaustive collection, so return trips are sure to feature new delights. Watch for new sculpture and other outdoor installations, as well as various touring and temporary exhibits—plus educational programming to include demonstrations, family-friendly music festivals, lecture series and more.

MIM's Klezmer exhibit

Next time you’re musing over what to do with family or friends, try letting this little ditty roll off your tongue: “Meet me at the MIM!”

I like the sound of that…


Photos courtesy of the MIM

Note: The MIM Music Theater, located at the southwest corner of Mayo and Tatum Blvds. in Phoenix, opens its Spring Season Performance Schedule tonight (Sunday, April 25) at 6:30pm with “Laurie Lewis with Tom Rozum.” Lewis is a Grammy-award winning fiddler, singer and songwriter who “provides a seamless mix of pure country and class bluegrass.” Tickets are $32-$36. For tickets or info visit http://www.themim.org or call 480-478-6001. To learn more about the adventures of MIM curators, read Steve Jansen’s piece in Phoenix New Times.