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Cleveland Orchestra Cellist Provides Positive Distraction for Children

Alan Harrell, CSU professor and Cleveland Orchestra cellist, uses his musical talents to keep children educated and entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a series of Facebook Live videos titled “Classical Kiddos with Alan,” Harrell teaches children the many wonders of music while weaving it into recognizable parts of children’s everyday lives.

“With so many parents being at home teaching their own children school lessons, I figured these livestreams would offer parents a break from education while also opening children’s eyes to new experiences,” Harrell says. “Being in the middle of a pandemic, it became a way that I could provide positive distractions for kids.”

Harrell began his project in mid-March, when Ohio’s shelter in place order first went into effect. With the CSU campus clearing out for the semester and the Cleveland Orchestra season cut short, he wanted to find a way to use his musical prowess for some sort of good. “Classical Kiddos with Alan” began as weekly 30-minute livestreams on Facebook Live and quickly gained interest from his fellow musicians.

Since then, Harrell has been joined by fellow Cleveland Orchestra members: percussionist Marc Damoulakis, trombonist Shachar Israel, violinist Amy Lee and flutist Jessica Sindell. Together, they teach children about the imagery that different instruments and play-styles can provide

In June, Harrell introduced “Sebastian the Social-Distancing Swan” to his audience. This six-part video series is released weekly as new chapters in what Harrell calls his “musical storybook.” Harrell and his orchestra-mates narrate short stories, paired with classical melodies, to portray the personalities of different animal characters as they navigate topics such as social distancing—or “swan distancing” as the first chapter says.

“Classical Kiddos with Alan” is currently ongoing, with posts added weekly on Facebook and YouTube