Immerse your family in the music and culture of THREE different time and places, easy to travel in Polk County, Florida.

You and your young musicians can immerse yourself into music of different cultures this January right here in Polk County, Florida.  The world of music is diverse enough to include musicians trained by their ancestors and friends, to those classically trained and bringing to life the music of Mozart.  Your child’s perceptions will broaden to include how music can connect with our emotions, and how music connects people together across different cultures. 

  • Native American Culture – Spirit of the Buffalo Pow Wow – Jan. 11-13 & 18-20
  • Old Time Folk Music – Mountain Man Rendevous – Jan. 25-26
  • Classical Opera by Mozart – Magic Flute Opera – Jan. 19

I know it seems like a lot in one month, but… it’s so close! and WOW!  What an opportunity to expand your child’s perspective on life in different times and cultures… without even having to travel far, and for such a great price.   Sometimes, we feel like Polk County doesn’t have a lot to offer, when in fact, amazing things are going on in Lakeland, Auburndale, and near Bartow.  Sometimes we feel like we are surrounded by artificially created amusements, when in fact, real people are gathering in person to share authentic lifestyles, and share some historically significant gems of our world throughout time and place.

Here in Lakeland, our young musicians, 5-6 years old, are introduced to many different styles and cultures of music in our Kindermusik Level 5 programs, along with beginner music theory and instruction on playing melodic instruments.  Our initial instrument for theory is a GLOCKENSPIEL, which is introduced when we are studying Mozart’s Magic Flute.  (Did you know the story also includes a set of magic bells?).  The DULCIMER is introduced when we are learning the folk music of the Appalachian mountains.  And the RECORDER is introduced when we are studying the music of Japan and the Pacific Islands. So this is a special opportunity for these students to time travel in polk county, to get past the introduction and into this immersion. We do have a few spaces for new students available on Thursday afternoon / evenings.

Spirit of the Buffalo Pow Wow 

WOW, this is such a great way to be introduced to the Native American culture!  I have attended almost every year since 2000, I love it so much.  

The heartbeat of the Pow Wow.

I highly recommend to put it on your calendar and really try to attend at least one day.  It opens up a whole new world and culture for our children as they are in an amongst people of all ages wearing the traditional clothing, and sharing the skills and wisdom of their ancestors who were a part of this land long before other civilizations moved here.

January 11-13  & 18-20, 2019 
1052 US-92, Auburndale, FL 33823
Adults $5.00, Children 12+ $3.00, Children under 12 y.o. free

People from MANY different tribes (intertribal) of North America gather for this huge two week Pow wow at the International Market World in Auburndale, FL, the public is only invited to join them on the weekends.  You will be walking around with people in traditional clothing and gear from their specific tribe.  When you talk with people at the more personal booths and displays, take a moment to learn their heritage and their story, for they offer much more than you can see.

The Pow Wow now has a huge tent (weather protection) for their sacred circle, including drummers, singers and dancers.  There are even times when everyone is invited to dance around the circle with them.  Special performance of relaxing native flute music, and pan pipe music from southern native cultures expand on the cultural diversion.

Jimmy Sawgrass will be there doing his show along with big Little Mountain.  They have got a great, shouldn’t miss show about the differences between Native Americans and Mountain Men.   Also you will see demonstrations of Native American crafts including Tomahawk Throwing, Bow and Arrow, Flint Knapping, Fire Making, Bead and Feather Work and a great show with trained birds of prey and mountain wolves.  Take a moment to eat a Native American taco (on fry bread) and watch the buffalo cavort around in the nearby fields, then walk around to see the multitude of aspects of native life:

  • Indian Village with Historic Artifacts
  • Intertribal Dance Competition
  • Artisans & Crafters
  • Taste Authentic Food
  • Native American Music
  • Live Buffalo

For a more personal perspective on my love for Native American Culture and how your family can enjoy more of the natural joy of these people and their music, see my 2013 article.


Alafia River Mountain Man Rendevous

Five characters from the Rendevous.
The mountains were full of so many different cultures.

This Mountain Man Rendevous at the Alafia River, in Homeland, South of Bartow on Hwy 98,  is another LIVE event in which children and families can be fully immersed in a unique primitive culture.  They can experience how people lived without any electricity or modern conveniences.

Public Days Friday January 25-26, 2019
1000 Old Fort Meade Rd , Bartow, FL 33830
$10.00 Adults $5.00 Seniors (60+) and Children (4-15) Free 3 and under Event link

At the Southeast’s largest pre-1840 interpretive encampment, over 1,200 participants come from all over the country to live in camps and portraying many different cultures and regions of early America.  Over 100 craftsmen and “stores” are there demonstrating/selling a large variety of traditional crafts and historical reproductions.  The participants are recreating a typical annual gathering for mountain men, traders, and colonial Americans, as they came together to trade what they had gathered (skins, meat) or what they had made (clothing, farmed & stored foods), and have competitions for skills they develop, like archery, and primitive games. 

It was also a time they gathered to make music and share stories together, so you can enjoy some spontaneous music entertainment as you weave your way around the encampment.   It was at one of these Rendezvous that I purchased my first dulcimer.    

Although primitive is the only way the campers live there, they do have clean bathroom areas, and you will be amazed at how efficient they are without all the modern conveniences.   I wouldn’t recommend any electronics except a camera to get some great photos of your family in this rustic world. And you must bring CASH, as there is no other way to pay your way. Make sure to choose a tall stein full of delicious homemade drinks of lemonade, rootbeer or sasparilla (so many choices).

Some schools are planning field trips on Friday, and so you may be going with your school.  Otherwise, you may consider going EARLY on Saturday to beat the crowds, and have more personal attention from these participants.

This link has more details about the whole experience:  Alafia River Rendevous


The Magic Flute Opera

Classical Opera written by Mozart

Friday January 19, 2019
701 W Lime St, FL 33815
$60/40/25 Adults; $15 Students Event link

Your child will be fascinated by experiencing the sights and sounds of an opera they can understand, as it will be sung in English.  The Magic Flute was one of the first operas that was written in which the ongoing story is present by both singing and speaking (most operas ONLY involve singing).  The story is set is a “mythical land somewhere between the sun and the moon” where the Queen of the Night must find a “hero” to rescue her daughter who was kidnapped.  Tamino is the prince who is chosen, and is given a magic flute to aid his efforts, as well as a companion, Papageno, the bird catcher to the queen, who is given a set of magical bells.  It is a delightful adventure full of interesting characters, humor and amazing music, of course.  Although I won’t share what these magic instruments do, let’s just say I’d like a set of each. 

“The adventure that follows allows Tamino to discover the truth, find his love and earn blessing for the triumph of courage, virtue, and wisdom.” 

The story does have some complex twists, and makes the whole “bad guy / good guy” idea a bit tricky to follow, so I’d really recommend it for children for children around age 5 and older.  It is definitely helpful for these younger children to understand the basic story before you go so it is a little familiar and more engaging for them to follow and enjoy the humor.  Follow Music Connections on Facebook for some resources you might use.

Our Imperial Symphony Orchestra (ISO) is an amazing local gem all by itself.  And for this event, they welcome opera professionals to Lakeland to join our local talent for this special showing. The vocal parts of the Queen of the Night are some of the most high and difficult opera songs to sing.  When you really listen to it sung well, it lifts your soul out of your body to play among the stars. Whereas, your children are most likely to enjoy and remember the rantings and songs of Papageno.

Click for more details, and tickets. 

It is amazing when the world, and the past, comes to visit your home town.  I hope to see you at any, or all of these events. 

Feel free to ask questions about how this might work best with your family, or to share your experiences with these events in the comments below.