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NSO MUSIC FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES

Peter and Friends

Event Information

Help Peter catch a silly wolf and save the day! Inspired by Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, this immersive show will have audience members playing like cats, flying like birds, and engaging with live music all along the way. The wild adventure features storytellers, puppets, and a quintet of woodwind and brass musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra, presented in collaboration with Teller Productions of Atlanta, GA.

Recommended for all ages.

Video performance is approximately 25 minutes.

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Click to Register for the Virtual Performance

Note: You must register to be able to watch the video performance.

Watch the Performance

This Virtual Performance is available for school audiences to stream here for free from February 1, 2024 – June 28, 2024, and requires pre-registration.

Educators: Enter your order number below to access the video.

If you do not have an order number, please register for access.

In this presentation, you’ll: 

  • Experience the story of Peter and the Wolf told through puppetry and music played by a wind quintet.
  • Identify the instruments of a wind quintet and learn which character in the story each instrument represents.
  • Discover how puppets can be created from household objects and be manipulated to act in ways the storyteller imagines.

Education Standards Alignments:

  • MU: CR1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
  • MU: PR4: Analyze, interpret, and select artistic work for presentation.
  • MU: Re8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.2: Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.4: Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.5: Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

(Social and Emotional Learning):

  • Responsible Decision-Making: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. This includes the capacities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being.
    • Demonstrating curiosity and open-mindedness
    • Recognizing how critical thinking skills are useful both inside and outside of school
  • Self-Awareness: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.
    • Identifying one’s emotions
    • Linking feelings, values, and thoughts

A photo of an audience of adults and children sitting on floor rugs as they watch a stage of performers. On the stage are five musicians seated on chairs with music stands in front of them, holding their instruments. Two actors in matching green shirts, black overalls, and sneakers stand on either side of the musicians and clap. The stage is decorated with a forest setting of three trees, part of a fence, and a little pond area.

Photo: Two performers encourage the audience to clap for the National Symphony Orchestra musicians. Photo by Derek Baker.

What to Expect:

Performance

  • This performance features storytellers who operate puppets and musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra who make up a wind quintet (or group of five).
  • The different instruments that make up the wind quintet are flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon.
  • This performance is approximately 25 minutes long.
  • Viewers will see audience members experiencing and reacting to the live performance. The main seating area for the show is on rugs on the floor in front of the performance area. There are chairs along the sides of Studio K and seats in the first row of the balcony. There are no assigned seats, so the audience chooses to sit on the floor or in chairs. Sitting on the carpeted floor allows the children to move more freely (especially when prompted by the performers) and be closer to their caregivers while experiencing the performance.
  • Peter and Friends is designed as a sensory-friendly show, which means the audience could come and go anytime they needed to, and the show wouldn’t be really loud. You can learn more about sensory-friendly performances on our webpage.

Performers

  • The storytellers, Scottie Rowell and Jimmica Collins, are puppeteers who bring to life four puppet characters—a bird, a duck, a cat, and a wolf. They are helped by puppeteers Nicholas Surbey and Cedwan Hooks.
  • Aaron Goldman plays the flute, Nicholas Stovall plays the oboe, Lin Ma plays the clarinet, Sue Heineman plays the bassoon, and James Nickel plays the French horn.
  • Sometimes, the musicians play on their own; and sometimes, the musicians play together.

Sound

  • Live music is played throughout the show.
  • Sometimes, the music is fast and exuberant; other times, the music is slow and calm.

Visuals

  • There are a few set pieces, including a stage for the musicians, and a tree and a gate on either side of the stage.
  • There are several puppets used in the show made using a variety of textures.

Lighting

  • There is both general stage lighting and audience lighting throughout the performance.
  • Lights in the seating area remain on at a low level throughout the performance.

Audience Participation

  • The audience is just as important as the storytellers on stage. From time to time, you may be asked to participate in Peter’s adventure by trying out different animal noises, helping Grandpa look for Peter, identifying sounds, and dancing along to the music. You may participate if you’d like to.

What You’ll Need

  • Please have any tools on hand that will help make the viewing experience comfortable for you! Depending on whether you’re watching on a shared screen (like a TV or projector screen) or on a computer, in a bright room or a dark room, you might want headphones (to enhance or reduce sound); sunglasses, visors, or other eyewear; fidgets; or communication devices.

Resources

  • Visit the “Explore the REACH” webpage to learn more about this part of the Kennedy Center campus, which includes Studio K (where the performance happened).

Look and Listen for

Before you watch the performance, check out this list of the characters in the show and the instruments that represent them.

  • Peter is a happy little boy who has many animal friends. When he shows up wearing his hat and handkerchief, every instrument behind the storytellers will play together.
  • Whenever you see Bird during the performance, listen for the musician playing the flute. This instrument’s high, fluttery notes sound just like a bird.
  • When Duck shows up, listen for the music of the oboe (a long instrument played by blowing air through a tiny, tiny opening). The oboe echoes the sound of Duck’s quacks.
  • Cat’s favorite instrument is the clarinet (similar to the oboe but a little softer—like a cat purring). Cat can be sneaky sometimes, but is great at cuddling.
  • Peter also has a gray-bearded Grandpa, whose deep, rumbling voice sounds like a low bassoon.
  • And last, there’s the Wolf! Be on the lookout for a Wolf on the loose. It might just appear when the powerful horn starts playing. Don’t worry, though. The horn may sound a little scary, but the Wolf is really very nice and just wants a friend.

Think About

After you’ve watched the performance, consider this:

  • There was a famous composer (someone who writes music) named Sergei Prokofiev (pronounced SAIR-gay pro-KOFF-ee-ef) who wanted to teach young people all about the musical instruments of the orchestra. He matched each character from a story with an instrument and a special musical theme and called it Peter and the Wolf. In this performance, you’ll hear the story and the composer’s music.
  • If you were an instrument, what would you sound like? Would you be a chirping flute like Bird? A sneakily soft clarinet like Cat? Or something else?

Illustrations of the puppet characters are by Scottie Rowell.

An illustration of the red bird puppet with a light plaid pattern. It has a dark yellow beak and light white speckles on its tummy.An illustration of the orange cat puppet. It has dark brown stripes on its back that match the inside of its ears. It has a yellow nose and little whiskers.An illustration of the gray wolf puppet. It has a lighter gray fluffy neck. Its tail and ears are a matching darker gray color.

Continue Exploring

What Do You See (and Hear)?

The different sizes and shapes of musical instruments impact how they are played and what they sound like. Use our Instrument Spotter’s Guide as a reference for how each animal Peter interacts with is meant to sound like a specific instrument.

Orchestra 101

The Guide to the Orchestra is a kid-friendly and handy reference that gives a deeper dive on everything to know about orchestras, their music, and their instruments.

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Curious about classical music? Chances are that you’ve heard more classical music than you may realize! Check out Kids’ Classical Countdown, our top 10 list of musical hits to listen and learn about familiar pieces, and what we recommend if a piece moves you.

Try It Yourself

People and Puppets

Peter’s story is told by people and puppets, which are made of fur, fabric, and foam. Puppets appear as if they’re moving on their own, but they’re actually operated by performers called puppeteers. You’ve probably seen puppets before on TV or in movies, but you may not have met one in person yet. Now’s your chance. Here are some things to remember while you watch the show:

  • Puppets can do almost anything they want on stage, like fly, swim, or play hide and seek.
  • Puppets don’t bite. If you’re invited to pet one of them, don’t be afraid.
  • Anyone can make a puppet. After the show, create your own puppet using items from around your house like socks, straws, cardboard, or pillowcases.

Visit two of our video activities—Put Some Arms on It! with Sam Jay Gold and Make Your Own Puppet Family with Ayrin Gharibpour—as examples for guidance in your own puppet making!

After you’ve made your puppet, consider the following prompts:

  • What is your puppet’s name? Is it a human, an animal, or something else?
  • Why did you choose those colors and materials?
  • Earlier, you thought about what instrument would represent you. What instrument would represent your puppet, and why?
  • How does your puppet move when they are happy? What about when they are sad or scared?

 Two actors in dark green shirts and black overalls perform in front of an audience of children and adults. The standing performer wears a black hat and red-and-black plaid neck scarf, arms crossed while looking down at Cat. The crouching performer controls the Cat puppet, which is orange with brown stripes and a yellow nose. Five musicians in all-black outfits sit on chairs in a semi-circle behind the performers while playing instruments.

Photo: Peter and Cat have a conversation with the help of a puppeteer as NSO musicians perform. Photo by Derek Baker.

Support of NSO Music for Young Audiences is presented by:

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and The Bender Foundation

Learning Guide Credits

Writers: Marcia Friedman, Emily Heckel, Ellie Pline

Editors: Tiffany A. Bryant, Emily Heckel, Scottie Rowell

Producer: Tiffany A. Bryant

Accessibility Consultant: Office of Accessibility

Share your feedback!

We’re thrilled that you’ve joined us for a performance this season! We would like to hear from your students and you about the experience. After the performance, follow these steps to share feedback:

  1. Share the survey link with your students for them to complete
  2. Complete
  3. If you’re a parent or caregiver,

Each survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete. The results will be used to inform future Kennedy Center Education program planning. Thank you in advance for sharing your valuable perspective!

Key Figures

Related Resources

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Media Kids’ Classical Countdown

Looking to bolster your knowledge of classical music or simply trying to broaden your knowledge of music in general? Whatever your reason, here’s a different kind of musical hit list—our choices for the top 10 works in Western classical music for kids and their parents.

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Make Your Own Puppet Family with Ayrin Gharibpour

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Put Some Arms on It! with Sam Jay Gold

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Kennedy Center Education 
Building the Future
of Arts Education

Professional development for educators. Summer intensives for young artists. Teaching artist guided activities. Performances for young audiences. Classroom lesson plans. Arts-focused digital media.

Kennedy Center Education offers a wide array of resources and experiences that inspire, excite, and empower students and young artists, plus the tools and connections to help educators incorporate the arts into classrooms of all types.

Our current teaching and learning priorities include:

Digital Resources Library

A robust collection of articles, videos, and podcasts that allow students of all ages to explore and learn about the arts online.

Three young people smiling and looking at a laptop computer screen

Current Topics in Arts Integration

Current approaches to arts integration in the classroom, inclusion, rigor, and adopting an arts integration approach at the school and district level.

A group of teens performing the musical, "In the Heights."

An asynchronous online course that invites educators and administrators to think about our students’ disabilities as social and cultural identities that enrich our classrooms and communities.

A boy with short brown hair wearing a hearing aid and glasses with a light blue wrist band and black t-shirt is drawing on a piece of paper with a pen he is holding in his left hand.

Kennedy Center Education

Generous support for educational programs at the Kennedy Center is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Gifts and grants to educational programs at the Kennedy Center are provided by A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation; Annenberg Foundation; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Bank of America; Bender Foundation, Inc.; Carter and Melissa Cafritz Trust; Carnegie Corporation of New York; DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Estée Lauder; Flocabulary; Harman Family Foundation; The Hearst Foundations; the Herb Alpert Foundation; the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; the Kimsey Endowment; The King-White Family Foundation and Dr. J. Douglas White; Laird Norton Family Foundation; Lois and Richard England Family Foundation; Dr. Gary Mather and Ms. Christina Co Mather; Dr. Gerald and Paula McNichols Foundation; The Morningstar Foundation; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; 

Music Theatre International; Myra and Leura Younker Endowment Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; Newman’s Own Foundation; Nordstrom; Park Foundation, Inc.; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Prince Charitable Trusts; Soundtrap; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Rosemary Kennedy Education Fund; The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates; The Victory Foundation; The Volgenau Foundation; and Volkswagen Group of America. Additional support is provided by the National Committee for the Performing Arts.

The content of these programs may have been developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education but does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education. You should not assume endorsement by the federal government.