Charles Taylor teaches music to children in the Head Start program at the Hill Education Center as part of Evanston Symphony Orchestra’s community outreach.

About a hundred pairs of tiny eyes focused on the man with the music, as Charles Taylor guided the children in the morning and full-day Head Start classes through new and familiar songs.

This was Mr. Taylor’s fifth and final visit for the year with the children. A master’s candidate in vocal performance at Northwestern University, Mr. Taylor teaches the elements of music to Head Start students as part of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra’s outreach program.

On May 14, Mr. Taylor and the children showed parents what they had learned over the year. “Who knows what the word for ‘soft’ in music is?” he asked, reminding the children to raise their hands.

“Piano!” a child shouted delightedly. “Piano,” Mr. Taylor repeated, “but let’s say it the way it sounds.”

“Piano,” they all whispered in return.

The children sang “Che Che Coule,” a traditional West African call-and-response children’s song, then, following Mr. Taylor’s lead, they learned the Gullah song “Kum Ba Yah.”

“The kids had never heard that song,” Mr. Taylor said to their parents after the exercise, “but they paid attention to the music and learned it.”

Ever the teacher, Mr. Taylor then helped the children teach their parents, as they all sang the round “Oh, How Lovely Is the Evening.”

ESO violinist Cathy Carr attended the event. She appeared to feel that with the passionate musicianship of Mr. Taylor, the enthusiasm of the students and the pride of the parents in the audience, the morning, too, was lovely.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...