News: First Team adds musical flare to story time
Story by Sgt. Angel Turner
FORT HOOD, Texas - Despite having numerous chairs to choose from, children of various ages gravitated to the colorful carpet in the front of the room.
Roughly 40 Fort Hood families gathered at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center here April 29 to participate in the post-wide “Tell Me a Story” event.
“Tell Me a Story,” co-hosted by the Military Child Education Coalition Fort Hood’s Parent to Parent Team and the New Parent Support Program provided families with an opportunity to interact through fun and literature.
With the lights dimmed, children listened as Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jeanne Pace, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division Band, read “The Remarkable Farkle McBride” by John Lithgow.
“I think it’s a wonderful program overall, and I feel honored to be asked to do it,” said Pace, a native of Tacoma, Washington.
While she began to read the story, a group of Soldiers, barely visible, waited patiently in the hallway for their cue.
As she turned each page, the children curiously peaked at the room’s side door, unsure what to make of the Soldiers in the hallway.
Just then, Sgt. Joseph Young, a musician with the 1st Cav. Div. Band, walked through the door with a violin in hand.
Cued by different segments throughout the book, other members of the band joined Young. From the violin to a flute and even a trombone and drums and cymbals, Soldiers added their own special flare to the “The Remarkable Farkle McBride.”
“I was told about the event and wanted to incorporate actual sounds with the pictures,” said Young, a native of Indianapolis.
“It’s more fun for the kids to actually see something than just pressing play,” added Joseph, who volunteered to arrange an original piece to go with story.
Echoes of bravo and awesome from the tiny voices reverberated through the room after each musical segment.
“There’s no replacing the excitement of children, and to see their reaction when the musicians came in and actually played,” Pace said.
After Pace finished reading the story, families gathered in different rooms where they talked about the book and played games that depicted the overall theme.
In one room, children discussed how Farkle McBride persevered throughout the story, and they shared how they persevere in their own lives.
The children took turns pretending to be conductors with the rest of the group acting as the band and yelling, “Never ever give up!”
Pace introduced the idea to add some flavor to the event, and it was well-received by everyone involved.
“I met Chief Pace before, and she was excited to do it, and she was pumped about bringing music and literacy to the kids,” said Cathy Sumner, the Fort Hood Parent to Parent team leader. “Any time those kids pick up those books they’re going to remember this time.”
The MCEC hosts a “Tell Me a Story” event at least twice a year. The children listen to a story, discuss the story, and even get their own signed copy of the book.
“Books can connect with values of substance and depth that line up with Army values,” said Leah Jones, a New Parent Support Program home visitor.
Jones said this event offers irreplaceable quality time for the military families.
“For Soldiers to be able to have a venue with quality time, kids will remember these times,” Jones said. “This also models to parents how to discuss books.”
The learning did not stop after the group of children discussed the story. The 1st Cavalry Division Band hung around a little longer, so they could briefly teach the children how to play the different instruments, allowing the novice players to actually give it a try.
“This is a moment in time, with the fast-paced world to just take a breath and enjoy the moment,” Pace said.
She added, “You never know what kind of an impact you will have on someone.”
The night concluded with children leaving the center with their books in hand as they recalled various segments of the night.
One little boy looked up at his mom and proudly boasted, “Mom, I played the violin like he did.”