By Marisol Dorantes
Entirely East Lansing staff Writer
Tim Marzorati went from rock and roll to rocking out with kids.
The banquet hall of the Hannah Community Center filled up with kids eager to listen to Marzorati perform as Tim the Music Man. The former band member of 19 Wheels began writing and recording children’s music with educational elements after the band broke up in November 2005. His show partner, David Stowell, adds an important element oflanguage skills while he plays guitar and sings along in Spanish.
Tim the Music Man is part of a children’s music series that East Lansing hosts through the spring. Wanda Degen, an arts organizer for the city of East Lansing, initiated the children’s concert series in 1985 in collaboration with the MSU Museum and the TenPound Fiddle Coffeehouse.
“This has become an East Lansing tradition. We have parents that bring their kids who used to come here when they were kids themselves,” said Kathryn Gardnecommunication specialist for East Lansing. Gardner works with Degen for many arts events in the city, including the East Lansing Solstice Jazz Festival.
The city recognizes the importance and benefits that the arts play in the development of the community. Gardener explained the difficulty of planning a successful event of this genre. Keeping the audience engaged is always a priority but when the age group ranges from newborns to kids in elementary school, this becomes a challenge. The performers are only part of the cost of the event. Admission to any of the children’s concerts is free;the city has made it a priority to keep this in the city budget for 27 years.
The success of the children’s music series is reflected in the high attendance of community members that come from every part of the Meridian Township. AmySalisbury, a resident of Haslett, attended Tim the Music Man’s concert with her daughter Mya, 2, and her son, 11 months old. This was her first year attending the event and she said that she and her kids enjoyed it so much that they would definitely be back for years to come.
With a room full of dancing, singing and laughing children, East Lansing’s efforts to promote the arts to the community continues to be a success.