- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Grammy winner Chuck Mangione does not always have to explain to his audience that the fluegelhorn is a trumpet that looks "kind of like when your mom was pregnant with your brother or sister."

But yesterday his audience was, he said, "more curious."

So much so that when Mr. Mangione, between playing his popular tunes, asked if there were any questions, almost every hand shot up in a room filled with more than 100 children ages 11 and under.

He did not get to everyone, but in the end, Mr. Mangione left a very satisfied bunch of students behind at Bunker Hill Elementary School in Northeast D.C. The children learned, among other things, that his favorite number was "Feels So Good," and that he made his first album way back in 1958.

The famous jazz musician was at the school as part of an interactive clinic, "Harman: How to Listen," designed to promote the importance of music education.

The children, thrilled by the celebrity musician in their midst but not so nervous as to hold back, clapped in time to his music, clamored to be included in the performance, and, in the end, swarmed around him for autographs.

The one-hour interactive program, part of a 31-school, six-city tour, was organized by Harman International Industries, which makes audio and video equipment. Other cities that will participate in the tour include New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. Mr. Mangione will teach at one school in each of the cities.

As part of the clinic, Harman will donate to each school music equipment worth $3,000. Yesterday, Bunker Hill got a state-of-the-art audio system, including two 15-inch speakers, a 10-channel stereo mixer and two microphones.

Four other elementary schools in the District of Columbia, including Ketcham in Southeast, Shepherd in Northwest, and Brookland and Slowe in Northeast, will get similar equipment and performances by local jazz musician Marshall Keys.

The schools were chosen on the basis of need, said Harman International spokeswoman Heather Kirkland. "We usually target underserved schools," she said, adding that all schools in the program are public schools.

"How to Listen" is a five-year-old program, started by Grammy-winning trumpeter and Pulitzer Prize winner Wynston Marsalis and Sidney Harman of Harman International. It is designed to help 8- to 12-year-old schoolchildren understand how and what to listen for in music, organizers said.

Mr. Mangione said yesterday that he had been performing an educational series for children, "Cat in the Hat," for several years when he was asked to participate in the Harman series. He said he loved playing for children "because they are so open."

He said there was "never enough done" to encourage children's participation in music, and added that it was important to get them to see live performances by quality musicians.

His advice to children with a serious interest in music, he said, is to "listen, listen, listen."

At the beginning of the clinic, held in the school's auditorium, Mr. Mangione and his band, including percussionist Don Alias and saxophonist and flutist Gerry Niewood, explained to the children the instruments they were playing.

Children learned the flute was a "wooden pipe with six holes you blow into one," as Mr. Niewood explained. They also learned the difference in the sounds between a wooden flute, an alto flute and a piccolo.

Mr. Alias brought along a can of hominy grits and showed the children how it, or a jar half-filled with beans, for example, could double as a percussion instrument.

By the end of the performance, when he handed out little yellow shakers shaped like eggs, the excited children immediately started to roll them in their fingers, making music of their own.

Bunker Hill music teacher Cassandra Bennett said the performance had been a bonus for the children.

"They really enjoy elements of jazz. When they knew he was coming, they were so excited," said Miss Bennett, who wore a pin shaped like a music note flowing into a piano keyboard.

She added that music programs at schools were always in need of money. Yesterday's clinic "is something we could never have been able to afford," had it not been free, she said, before rushing off to get an autograph of Mr. Mangione for herself.

Some parents also made it to the concert, armed with cameras to photograph their children as they rushed up on stage when Mr. Mangione called for volunteers, or asked the musician questions from their seats.

Parents said schools need more money to implement effective music programs for children. "With the budget Bunker Hill has, they do a wonderful job. But they need more money," said parent Joy Powell.

Her daughter, Meghan, 11, a sixth-grader at the school, said she had loved playing the violin and the trumpet, but had to give up "because I always had too much homework."

Yesterday's program, she said, had inspired her. "I love old music. I am going buy all his CDs if I could find them," she said.

Amber Rawles, 9, a fourth-grader, said she learned yesterday that "music can come from the heart."

"His music is really different from what I listen to," said Amber, who said she is a gospel and rap fan. "But it was really excellent."

She said she was fascinated enough by Mr. Mangione's music yesterday to want to become a musician herself.

"Who knows, maybe my life will be just like Chuck Mangione's," she said, her eyes dreamy.

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