National Music Festival Offers Family Concerts & Kids Activities


The National Music Festival at Washington College is excited to offer a variety of family-friendly events during its 2017 season, taking place from June 4 to June 17 at locations throughout Kent County. On the Festival’s opening night, a concert at 6:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre at Washington College will feature the Chester River Youth Choir and the Fiddlesticks! Orchestra. Fiddlesticks! is a program offered by the National Music Festival that provides free string instrument lessons and instruments to Kent County children in grades 3-8. The National Music Festival is thrilled to have the Fiddlesticks! Orchestra perform and showcase the progress they have made this year.

Fiddlesticks! Orchestra member Sage Cookerly plays the violin.

Another free and family-oriented event offered during the Festival this year is the Instrumental Petting Zoo, taking place Tuesday, June 6 at 5 p.m. in the lobby of the Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College. The “zoo” will offer approximately 15 different stations with a variety of orchestral instruments that families and children can interact with. The Instrumental Petting Zoo is “one of the events of the Festival that people in the community are always very excited about. People look forward to it, especially because it is a family-friendly activity that the kids always really remember,” says Michael Sawzin, Director of Youth Programming and Personnel Manager for the National Music Festival.

In addition to the Instrumental Petting Zoo, on Saturday June 10 at 5:30 p.m families are encouraged to attend and experience the “One Big Happy Family Concert,” a special concert for the whole family that will offer a variety. of genres of music with a special theme of “Music Sets the Stage.” The theme will highlight the ambiance and specific use of each piece being performed; listeners will be able to hear a delightful variety of music, from jazz to pop to opera to film scores. The concert will be held in Tawes Theatre at Washington College and is free to attend.

Finally, the National Music Festival will be offering a “Musical Explorers” concert during its closing weekend that will be fun for children (and adults) of all ages. The concert will be a jazz event, exploring jazz as a genre as well as offering a brief scat singing workshop, “Scat-egories,” with NMF apprentice Maria Rusu. (No experience necessary!) The Chester River Chorale Jazz Ensemble will also sing four Duke Ellington numbers. The concert will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 at The Mainstay in Rock Hall.

“Th.e family events have a very unique atmosphere because there is a lot of talking and families are encouraged to move around if they need to; unlike in more formal concerts, at these family events kids can move around if they get antsy,” said Michael Sawzin, who in addition to his role as Director of Youth Programming is also the primary instructor for the Fiddlesticks! Youth Strings Program. “We’re using events to break down the classical music stereotype and these family events are chances to make music more accessible to people in Kent County.”

The National Music Festival, in addition to its concerts and family activities, offers 200 free rehearsals that are open to the public. Families are encouraged to attend these open rehearsals because they are great for younger children who might not be able to sit through an entire concert. Even if it is for just 15 minutes, families and community members are encouraged to stop by.  Kids of all ages are welcome to rehearsals, but for concerts, the Festival does request that children be 5 years of age or older. Rehearsal times and locations can be found on the Festival’s website at Festival Passes and single concert tickets are also available for purchase on the website, as well as at the Chestertown Visitors Center from 10am-5pm Monday – Saturday and 12pm-5pm Sundays for the duration of the festival.

National Music Festival, June 4-17.  For more information and schedule of all events, visit the NMF website.



  1. Fender Blog says:

    More Information On The Scat Singing For Kids

    […] ety of orchestral instruments that families and children can interact with. The […]

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