Letters to the DSO board on Educational Programming

To the DSO Board of Directors:

Is Candy Band your idea of educational programming?

Let me be clear. I am in no way criticizing Candy Band or its members. I am saying that this type of music is not appropriate for the Educational Programming of the DSO, and the Tiny Tot’s series is part of that programming

Years ago, the Tiny Tots and Young People’s concerts were performed exclusively by the musicians of the DSO. These concerts were extremely popular, and frequently sold out. I would also ad that because the concerts were performed by DSO musicians, there was not an extra group of performers being paid.

Since the new DSO management arrived, with its new ideas about education and outreach programs, things have changed. The DSO musicians are no longer used exclusively, and management frequently pays other groups to perform these concerts instead.

Recent Detroit Free Press articles have stated that the $2 million dollars needed to bridge the gap and secure a contract for the musicians had been found, but that the mysterious donors insist that the money be used for educational and outreach programs. Somehow I sincerely doubt that this is the type of programming those donors have in mind.

Mike Wargal, Madison Heights


It’s a beautiful tradition to take tots to the DSO. They will want to return to hear world-class musicians. That’s at least 1/2 of the importance of the event.

Thank you!

Pierette Simpson


Re: Mothers playing rock at Tiny Tots concert.
My feelings are that exposure to classical music played by some of the best musicians in the world leaves a musical imprint that lasts for a lifetime. I would argue that it sets a bar for excellence in other future fields of endeavor as well.
Rock is a great form of music rooted in blues, jazz and Voodoo. But rock, like its central instrument, the guitar, is easy to play a little and hard to play well.
Tots deserve the best we have to offer. Wouldn’t you agree?

RW Heasler


While I’m sure the Candy Band is very enjoyable, in the longer run, you’re not doing those kids a favor. Settle the Symphony issue and restore the original program of exposure to great sounds and an overwhelming musical experience. They can get the Candy Band or a facsimile on their TV any day of the week.

Roland Sharette


I feel very strongly that the DSO Tiny Tots Concerts should feature symphonic music played by musicians of the DSO.

[email protected]
Toddle Tunes, “Best Kids’ Music Class”
-LA Magazine


As a classical musician myself, and as a very long-time music educator for children in the public schools I am appalled at your scheduling of the Candy Band for tiny tots. While I am sure they are perfectly fine and probably lots of fun, is this really what the DSO should be doing to expose children to fine art music?

At a time in our musical history when very small children are exposed to the “wonders” of guitar hero, rock band and other similar pastimes, and at a time when the general public seems so lacking in knowledge of the fine arts due to huge cuts in music education in the schools for the past 4 decades, do we really want to present this to our children as something truly valuable, lasting and worthwhile? Is this what the DSO organization has been reduced to presenting to our children as fine music?

I am so frustrated after spending many many years trying to instill a love for western art music into our children, trying so hard to enhance their cultural lives, to see that even YOU — upon whom we music educators have always depended to present fine symphonic music to the young — have degenerated into silly, funsy-wunsy, “stuff” that they could get anywhere. Seriously: shame on you.

June C. Zydek

B.Mus., M.Mus.,

Current Michigan Teaching Certificate K-12 Music, 7-12 Fine Arts

Professional Organist, Harpist and Dramatic Soprano


Dear Board of Directors,

While I’m sure the Candy Band are a good group, it is not how we should have our children exposed to as quality music. This kind of entertainment will not spark the interest or desire to become wonderful classical musicians.

Please, please, please think hard and long about the future of our children and their potential in following a different musical path.

Caryn Crimmins


I heard about the Candy Land band. Not that the band wouldn’t be good for a circus or a party, but to stand in stead of a classical ensemble . . . no way, as the kids say. My now full grown son, who is now a member of a wonderful orchestra is fulfilling the dream he started when I brought him to a Tiny Tots concert with the National Symphony Orchestra playing under the direction of Howard Mitchell. My son fell in love with the violin that very day and kept asking me when he could play the ‘biolin.’ Dumbing down everything in the name of economy is NOT the way to do anything worthwhile or lasting educationally. You are cutting off your noses despite your faces.

Lauretta Jenkins


Give us the DSO we have always loved. William Duffy


Dear DSO Board,

I understand that there is a Tiny Tots Concert this weekend that
doesn’t in any way resemble the concerts my grand daughters’ and
their friends attended.
When I brought my now 14 year old grand daughters to concerts at
Detroit Country Day they were enthralled. By age five Emma was asking
for flute lessons because she loved listening and watching the
flutest who played. It took quite a determined search to find a
teacher who would take on a five year old and then, of course, she
needed a specially sized flute. Her twin Caity went on to take piano
and horn lessons. They both love and appreciate classical music and
continue to take lessons, play in their high school marching band and
sing in choirs. Of course, i still bring them to concerts…..when we
have them!!

Please don’t change the basic philosophy behind Tiny Tots Concerts.
Keep them as the excellent introduction to classical music they have
always been. Rock music is available wherever you are whether we want
it or not. Live classical music from one of the finest orchestras in
the U.S. is not so easily available. Why change such a fine program?

Hopefully, the current negotiations between musicians and management
will finally result in a settlement. We all look forward to some good
news and a return to Orchestra Hall!

Arlene Gendelman


There is no reason to believe that children of any age cannot appreciate symphonic music if it is presented to them in the right way: i.e. in small quantities but in a non-condescending way. There is, of course, nothing wrong with rock music; but it seems that children get enough of that already. Let’s try to keep Tiny Tots as it was conceived and not deprive future generations of what they should have.


Dear Board of Directors,

I remember taking our son to Tiny Tot Concerts. That is what helped to influence his love for classical music. I urge you to continue the tradition and not substitute other music into the program. If we are to develop the younger audience appreciation for classical music we need to us the best musicians we can find. The DSO needs to continue to offer the highest quality so the the younger audience will fully appreciate the music and their love for it will be nurtured and they will become the audience of tomorrow.


Debbie Lannen


We believe that the complete orchestra should be available for our children so that they can be exposed to the highest quality music available at a young age.

Grady Burke


I feel that the tiny tots concert should feature symphonic music
played by musicians of the DSO because I think it is good for children
to hear the excellent music being offered by these musicians. Thank
you Meena Karol

January 21, 2011


Dear DSO Board:

I was born in Detroit and lived in Grosse Pointe Farms and other suburbs for most of my life. I now live in Raleigh, North Carolina and am extremely sad to learn of the troubles with Detroit’s shining jewel – the DSO. For many years I worked at the lawfirm of Bodman & Longley and one of our senior attorneys, Pierre Heftle,r was very involved with the DSO and DSO negotiations. I too was very pleased when I was working on DSO projects as I felt I was giving back to an organization that had given me so much happiness throughout my life. I can remember as a child – probably started at 4 or 5 – going to Belle Isle for DSO concerts with my parents on warm summer evenings under the stars. It was magical and gave me the love of music and the arts that enriched my life. I started my kids on symphony, ballet, theatre and even opera when they were about the same age. This “education” made them the well rounded adults that they are today.

I feel very strongly that that the DSO should continue the tradition and pass the love of music and joy of a full orchestra on to the next generation. Detroit has lost so much over the years and while I am sure the Candy Band is good – it is not the same as listening and watching the majesty of the full orchestra. The DSO has given Detroit happiness in some of its bleakest moments – don’t deprive future generations of the full DSO experience.

Mrs. Ronald G. Kirian (Diane)


After watching a utube video of the Candy Band I can’t even believe
that it would be a consideration for children. In comparison to the
DSO they lack integrity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sorry for the children
they will be missing an opportunity to for a fine musical experience.
Meena Karol

We are retired musicians from the Detroit Symphony. We are shocked and saddened that this could be a program for our young people, when the purpose and dedication of the DSO is to educate and promote a desire to hear and appreciate symphonic music. Regardless of the popular culture, artists must always remain steadfast in their belief and commitment to the value of the arts in our society and not give in to the fad of the moment. Entertainment has its value,but the pleasure of hearing great music performed by a great orchestra is beyond entertainment. We do not need to nourish the need to be entertained. We desparately need to nourish a desire for greatness.

Lillian and Leroy Fenstermacher


If (the musicians) are not there to play then they should be able to fill the empty spot. The Candy Band can be fun.



“….four metro Detroit moms that infuse rock into traditional nursery rhymes, original tunes and other children’s favorites”.


For goodness sakes, be creative, fund the DSO.

Stephan T. Freer, Ph.D.


To the DSO Board:

Remember Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts? Now, “…four metro Detroit moms….?” What, exactly, does this say about your vision as the board of a major American orchestra?

At the very least, you might think about how you, the current board, will be remembered. This won’t help, you know.

Sorry this sounds snide, but honestly, people……


Jeffrey Johnson


I like to bring my grandchildren (4 of them) to tiny tot concerts.
They will not be coming to hear rock. They can hear that anytime.
Get your troubles with the orchestra and get back to providing our
community with high quality symphonic music.

Mrs. Rittinger


‘so important for our children to hear and see classic music at its finest. The DSO does it best. Always good to have additional areas of music for children to be a part of, but all children, typical and special needs need to have the immersion of fine music.They get it more than we as adults realize.

A Mom and Special Education Teacher.


Dear Board,

I am deeply disturbed by the choice that the Board and the management have made to destroy the cultural institution of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – the world class orchestra that we know and love – and to downgrade it into something else. Having a mom’s rock band (no matter how good it is) to substitute for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the Tiny Tot’s program is an example of a new low in this process. I hope that someone, somehow will reverse the direction that YOU have been heading and get our orchestra back.

Hugh Gulledge, RPT

Piano Technician, Detroit Symphony Orchestra


Dear Sir/madame,

I am shocked and outraged that the DSO would subject children to a concert of the Candy Band. This is rock and roll! These children are subjected to rock and roll from the moment of their birth. Rock and Roll is not symphonic music! The title of your organization is “Detroit Symphony Orchestra.” When did you get rid of the words “Symphony Orchestra?”

If I could find a way to fire the board who is mismanaging this wonderful organization, I would do it now.

I will never take my children to any of your concerts in the future until there is a new board.


Patricia Willington



Is Detroit going to feed the ears of our youth with rock? Are we throwing our children to the masses of garbage sounds; sounds that they will inevitably be exposed to later in life. Consider this: would you prefer to feed your children a nourishing meal or McDonalds. I grew up in Pontiac, MI with the benefit of learning how to play and appreciate music. I evolved from the rock bands, through the jazz ensembles and became a professional classical bassist. I teach appreciation courses for all three of these genres and I can tell the public that classical music has a higher aesthetic because of the long tradition, exceptional composers, and highly trained performers. Our children deserve the opportunity to listen to the high quality live music that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra offers!


Dr. Tod Leavitt

Lecturer In Music

Valdosta State University


I wish to express my profound dismay at learning the upcoming DSO Tiny Tots
Concert will present just a four-piece rock band, and absolutely no
musicians from the Detroit Symphony.

Opportunities for young people to hear rock music are legion.
Opportunities for them to hear live orchestral music are becoming more and
more rare. As the DSO is an organization devoted to the presentation of
live orchestral music, the Candy Band concert is at best peripheral, at
worst self-defeating and a waste of time and effort in terms of the DSO’s
raison d’être.

I grew up in San Francisco, and cherish my memories the San Francisco
Symphony giving concerts for school children every year. These were
extraordinarily important formative experiences for me, to the point where
they helped to clinch my decision to become a professional musician.

My brother had the even more wonderful opportunity to attend SFS concerts
weekly for free in his high school years (sadly, the program was
discontinued by the time I was in high school). These proved a vital
educational experience, introducing him to countless musical masterpieces,
and greatly deepening his cultural understanding.

The DSO must be directly involved in producing such crucial formative
musical experiences for youth in Michigan. This is not to say that our
youth shouldn’t hear other kinds of music as well; certainly, they should
hear the widest possible variety of music. But the DSO exists to present
orchestral music, and that must include concerts for children.

The Ann Arbor Symphony regularly gives children’s concerts. I cannot
understand why Detroit shouldn’t be able to provide something that is taken
for granted in Ann Arbor.


Timothy Tikker


Board members,

Why switch from symphony orchestra education to programming that is
merely a continuation of the pop culture that’s been deluging the
public ad nauseum? While the Band to be featured may be good enough
for the style, use the platform instead to present an orchestral
awareness program of appropriate, exciting performances. If cost is a
consideration, place available funds to the DSO to realistically show
itself and its repertoire.

Sincerely, John Mohler

Dear Board,

I am shocked to see that Candy Band is the feature in the Tiny Tots Concert. Speaking as a musician, instrumental music teacher, and a mom, the purpose of the Tiny Tots concert is to expose the children to the symphony and to great classical music. We should not digress from this purpose.

Samar Atallah



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