What does screaming into a cave have to do with playing the cello?
How does the water cycle affect playing the French horn?
What was the British army band trying to do when it played "Yankee Doodle" during the Revolutionary War?
Why is it important to know fractions when reading music?
Making the connections between music and other subjects, including math, science and history, is the goal of a series of fun, interactive and, of course, musical concerts performed by members of the National Symphony Orchestra.
The concerts were the idea of NSO cellist Yvonne Caruthers, who has been playing her instrument since she was 9 years old. But Caruthers also calls herself a "science nut," and several years ago she came up with the idea of telling kids how music connects with the rest of their world.
The programs are designed for older kids, ages 9 and older, because "it's really easy to develop a program for 4-year-olds, but it's really hard to develop something entertaining for 12-year-olds," Caruthers said. "Parents assume their kids know what they're doing by the time they get to middle school."
The concerts, which feature four or five members of the orchestra playing different instruments while facts and other images are flashed on a screen overhead, strike a chord with kids.
"It was really cool. They talked about lots of stuff, like if a tuba became unrolled it would be 40 feet long," said Finn Mehigan, 10, of McLean.
Finn attended a recent concert that highlighted the connections between history and music. "They did a play about Lewis and Clark that was really funny," he said.
As for what fractions, tunnel-screaming and the water cycle have to do with music, you can find out at upcoming concerts at the Kennedy Center.
We will tell you that the British were trying to dis American soldiers by playing "Yankee Doodle." The Americans had the last laugh, however. When the British surrendered at Yorktown, the British band played "The World Turned Upside Down."
-- Tracy Grant