Perry chooses an instrument

Dear bear friends:

When I travel with the San Francisco Symphony, I hear beautiful music.

Imagine! More than one hundred of the world's finest musicians come together to play music that is grand, or happy, or vivid, or sad. The music they play makes my little heart beat faster! I sit in the concert hall, snuggled on Miss Cynthia's lap, and wish, oh, how I wish, that I could make beautiful music, too.

On this tour, I've found myself talking with my musician friends. I ask, "What would be the right instrument for a little bear to play?" Of course, everyone in the Orchestra thinks their particular instrument is the best!

It's fun to imagine playing each of the instruments in the orchestra. Perhaps I could play one of the instruments in the strings section. I like the big double-bass! It has a low, manly sound. It would be fun to stand on a high stool and play an instrument five times my size!

Perhaps a cello? Miss Jill, the cello player, says I would have a problem with fingering--since I don't have fingers, I have a paw but I like the silky, sweet sound the cello makes. Miss Jill says I would be good at vibratto: pressing hard on a string and vibrating it to make a thrumming sound.

Violin! There are more violin players than any other instrument in an orchestra! Mister Dan says I might be able to play a violin, but I would have to stretch my little arms way, way out to grasp the neck.

What about woodwinds? That section of the orchestra includes the oboe, the flute, the clarinet and the bassoon. Oh, dear. Miss Robin says my muzzle is the wrong shape to blow into a flute. Mister David plays the clarinet, but he showed me it is way too long for a little bear to reach. Darn! I like the way the woodwinds sound, from the sweet tweedle of the flute to the low song of the bassoon.

Well, there is the brass section. I could play a trumpet! Or a trombone, like Mister Laurie. No need for fingers on a slide trombone, because you change the length of the instrument to change the note. Oh! Could I play the tuba? Imagine little Perry Bear sitting inside a tuba, puffing away. I love the tuba's big, booming sound.

What about a horn? A french horn that calls, sweet and low, over the heads of the musicians. My friend Mister Bob plays the horn, and he likes computers, too! Perhaps Perry Bear could play the horn.

What else? The last section of the orchestra is called "Percussion and Other Instruments", and it's the most fun of all. I'd rather bounce on the big drums called tympani than play them! Imagine little Perry Bear, bouncing and bouncing in the center of a big drum. I could play the triangle! Strike the center, and mind your time, Perry Bear.

I don't think paws would play the piano very well, but I love to sit with Mister Robin and watch his large, supple hands draw music from the keyboard. The harp, too, would be hard work for a little bear. Mister Doug has to extend his arms out very, very far to ripple across the strings of the harp. I like to sit on top of the harp, though the sound is very beautiful and I feel the vibrations from the strings from my tail to my nose.

I am only a little teddy bear, but in my imagination, I can play music! I know what my instrument would be. I would play the viola! The viola is a stringed instrument, larger than the violin and with a deeper, sweeter voice. I like the sound of a viola it reminds me of bears humming.

Most of all, I'd play the viola because I like viola players. Viola players are a lot like teddy bears! They're nice. They're calm and relaxed, and they like people. Other musicians make lots of jokes about viola players, but the viola players themselves tell the very best viola jokes! They're always laughing and happy, and they always welcome a little bear to their circle.

That's it! Perry Bear Ewer has chosen his instrument: the viola.

What instrument would you play, if you were a member of a symphony orchestra?

Your bear friend,
Perry Bear Ewer

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