We have some very exciting news to share! Our dear Bear, beloved by children all over the world, has been invited to participate in a very special symphony orchestra led by some of the finest musicians in the land. The Canton Symphony Orchestra in Canton, Ohio, will be bringing Bear to life through music for young people at their annual SymphonyLand series, which runs January 11 through April 19.

If you’re in the area or know folks who are, we encourage you to attend with any young special little book or music lover you know and delight in the fun, interactive performance of Bear!

To celebrate this development in Bear’s career, we spoke with Lisa Boyer, Director of Education with the Canton Symphony Orchestra and learned some interesting things about Bear. We hope you enjoy this interview. If you plan to attend SymphonyLand or know anyone who will, please share a review, we’d love to hear!

Q: How did you come up with the idea to pair children’s books and symphony music?
A: It has always seemed a perfect fit because storytelling and music are so often linked. Children respond very freely and without inhibition to music, especially to live music, and they will enter the make-believe worlds of children’s books naturally and without hesitation. Orchestral instruments provide such a broad spectrum of sounds and there is a wealth of symphonic music that can enhance any story.

Q: Why did you select the Bear series this year?
A: I LOVE Bear. Bear was selected for the first series of SymphonyLand concerts two years ago and the books worked wonderfully. Last year we used three other Barefoot Books that also worked quite well – I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur, Elusive Moose and Hidden Hippo.  But quite honestly, I missed Bear!

Q: What music do you think of when you see Bear?
A: All music!  Because of all the things Bear does, the places he goes and the Bears and people he meets.  There is no limit to the music because Bear is limited only by imagination.

Q: Could you describe children’s reactions to the SymphonyLand experience in three words?
A: Delighted, engaged, surprised (and the parents reactions were similar!)

Q: Why is music education important to young children?
A: There is much research concerning the positive effect music education has on very young children with some of the strongest evidence in the areas of language acquisition and reading readiness.  This is the foundation of the learning we hope to provide in all of the SymphonyLand programs, but in addition we focus on other content areas.

Bear is a great teacher about families, neighborhoods, the seasons, daily life, getting along with others and many things that young children are discovering every day. From the strictly musical standpoint, each program and book we use incorporates learning about the musical concepts important for this age group – of high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft, steady beat and the instrument families of the orchestra.

Q: What part of your work at Canton Symphony do you most enjoy?
A: My heart is happiest at work when I am putting together programs, particularly SymphonyLand and other programs for our youngest audiences.  I love to look at the incredible children’s literature and am continually astounded by the artistry in the language and the images on the page.  But it’s even better because then I get to combine all of it for children to experience that  art and language with music that I love played by incredible musicians.

Q: How did you discover Barefoot Books?
A: It was purely by accident when I was searching for children’s books for a different program the Canton Symphony Orchestra was developing for story times at the library. I don’t even think it was a Bear book that I was interested in, but I was trying to find smaller, more child-focused publishing houses because I hoped I would find something a little different and more suited to our purpose. I like the book and went to the website and, much to my delight, found a treasure in Barefoot Books! (And my granddaughter Hannah is very glad I did!)

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