Musical Storybooks | Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Musical Storybooks

Perfect for preschoolers, this program presents favorite storybooks illustrated with great music by the KSO ensembles. Each 30-minute program includes a craft activity, a narrated telling of the story with music, and interactive learning led by the musicians. Most programs are free of charge and held in libraries and family-friendly community venues. Preschool classes welcome!

This program is available to come to preschool and Young 5’s classrooms for a fee. Contact us for information.

Visit our Community Concerts & Events calendar to find a Musical Storybook near you!

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Storybook Library

Musical Storybooks - Octopus' Garden

Because by Mo Willems

This program is good for children of all ages and is performed by the string quartet. 

The story of a girl who heard a Symphony Orchestra and was inspired to become a composer. What does it take to become a composer? Lots of hard work, scores of behind- the-scenes people, and a little bit (or maybe a lot of luck). Music from traditional composers like Beethoven along with contemporary female composers Florence Price and Grace Bacewicz follows the journey of our heroine as she discovers her love for music and develops into a master musician, composer, and conductor.  

Musical Storybooks - Ferdinand the Bull

Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf

A classic tale paired with the famous opera score from Carmen by Berlioz, Ferdinand tells the story of a young bull who finds himself on the opposite side of his bullish collective. 

Will he give in to peer pressure and fight like the other bulls or will he embrace his true nature and keep smelling the flowers? The music, performed by a string quartet, moves from dramatic to sweet with plenty of foot- tapping opportunities and melodies you will be singing on the way home. The story encourages everyone to be themselves and let their light shine. 

Musical Storybooks - Giraffes Can't Dance

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andrae

Follow our giraffe hero, Gerald, as he learns to dance to his own music. 

Waltzing warthogs, lions doing the tango, and a chimpy cha-cha are just a few of the musical styles explored in this story that encourages the audience to embrace who they are without judgment, and dance like nobody's watching. 

Musical Storybooks - Hum and Swish

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers

This program by our storybook trio, best for younger children and families, tells the story of a young person who just wants to make something at the beach. She is continuously interrupted by strangers, friends and family and is challenged to express how she feels about these interruptions. This show includes an opportunity to think about how different music makes you feel.

Musical Storybooks - Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

This fun story evokes life in the city with a variety of musical styles. Performed by a special ensemble of Trumpet, Cello, Clarinet, Trombone, and Percussion, it follows a young boy and his Grandma as they ride the city bus through the streets. The music describes the various people and places they see along the way.

Musical Storybooks - Last Stop on Market Street

Octopus's Garden by Ringo Star

This is a new program performed by a String Quartet (2 violins, viola, cello). We use the book Octopus’s Garden written by Ringo Star, and weave Beatles tunes throughout the story. Opportunities for audience participation and singing. Songs include: Yellow Submarine, With a Little Help from My Friends, Let It Be, When I’m 64, Hey Jude, All You Need Is Love, and Octopus’s Garden.

Musical Storybooks - Peter and the Wolf

Peter and the Wolf  by Prokofiev

In this symphonic fairy tale written by Sergei Prokofiev featuring a Woodwind Quintet (oboe, clarinet, bassoon, french horn, and flute), the characters come alive in the music. In the orchestra biz, this is called “Leitmotif” where each character has a musical theme that is used to create the score. Come on an imagination exploration with us and meet our musical friends in the middle of their adventure. 

Musical Storybooks - They All Saw A Cat

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Explore different ways to see and hear the world with the string quartet.

Family Fun Through Chamber Music

An all-ages program featuring musical favorites such as Peter & the Wolf and Carnival of the Animals, performed by KSO ensembles. These one-hour programs feature an Instrument Petting Zoo led by the featured musicians, craft activities, and a fun, narrated performance of the featured musical work. 

Musical Storybooks - Carnival of the Animals

Carnival of the Animals

The flagship program of our KSO Brass Quintet (2 trumpets, trombone, french horn, and tuba), this is truly a carnival that celebrates the sounds, squawks, and swells of the animal kingdom. Featuring poetry by Jack Prelutsky and music by Camille Saint-Saëns, you will meet the regal lion, lumbering tortoise, elegant swan and many more.

Musical Storybooks - Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition

Take a journey into art with the KSO Brass Quintet. This program can be paired with existing art or art created by local artists or students of art. The music, created by Modest Mussorgsky in honor of an artist friend, depicts in sound what he experienced when seeing various paintings. You can imagine you can promenade through the art gallery and experience what it is like to hear the art on the walls.

Musical Storybooks - Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin - KSO script

Performed by our largest ensemble, the KSO Pros on the Go, this program takes you on a journey in the life and music of composer Scott Joplin. From his Treemonisha Overture to the famous Maple Leaf Rag, we tell the story of how Scott Joplin became the King of Rag (Ragtime Music). The ensemble includes a full string quartet, oboe, clarinet, trombone, and percussion.