By Chris Sutton
The second graders at Paradise Canyon Elementary School agreed there was not a better way to spend a rainy Monday at school than to listen to stories and songs. For an hour, the students were mesmerized one moment and laughing the next as they listened to storyteller Leslie Perry and musician Robert S. Hilton from the Pasadena Symphony.
Perry has been telling and acting out his stories for the last 30 years, saying, “I tell stories to try and keep them alive.”
Hilton’s accompanying music had the students clapping along. He has been performing for over 29 years and is known for all his handmade instruments, created from natural, recycled materials, including coffee and tea pots, gourds, walnut shells, PVC pipe, a cigar box and even springs. He played all of the 15 instruments he brought, as well as let the students try them.
Referring to the coffee pot, with a spring attached, student Matthew Varraveto said, “I like this. It is cool and noisy.”
The first story about Anansi the spider quickly captured the second graders’ attention, as the spider came upon a magic, moss-covered rock and used it to trick the other large jungle animals, whereby he took their supply of food.
“A Big Wind is a Blowing,” Perry’s last story, was about a lion who would not let the other animals near the river, saying it was his river. The desperate jungle animals turned to a rabbit for assistance who ,carrying his long grass rope, fooled the lion into believing he needed to be tied to a tree to avoid from being blown away.
The second graders enthusiastically helped pull the rope tighter and tighter around the lion. In the end, the thirsty jungle animals returned to the river to drink, while the selfish lion watched.
“I liked stories. I don’t hear many stories with music,” said student Melessa Horner.
Shaun Apffel, Katie Budde, Jodie Carson, Pam Hodde, Tracy McCullough and Carol Wawrychuk, the second grade teachers, enjoyed the performance just as much as the students.
“I really enjoyed seeing all of the different instruments and how he used simple household items to make them,” said Wawrychuk.