Students in music classes at William Kelley and Minnehaha Elementary schools received a visit this week from the Zenith Contemporary Ensemble. As part of the Classical Minnesota Public Radio's Class Notes program, the Duluth-based piano and flute ensemble visited every elementary class Tuesday, Jan. 15, and Wednesday, Jan. 16.

Class Notes is a program focused on bringing Minnesota-based artists to schools across Minnesota so elementary and middle school students have the opportunity to learn about and experience live music. Class Notes artists are professional musicians who visit elementary and middle schools not only to perform but also to talk about music, composers and instruments. The Zenith Contemporary Ensemble consists of flutist Paula Gudmundson and pianist Tracy Lipke-Perry.

"A lot of our impetus for doing this is to inspire the kids to think about maybe think about playing music," Gudmundson said. "To inspire them to think about music, about singing, to plant that seed."

Lipke-Perry agreed, adding that they also help provide guided listening to help the students "imagine the music further."

"We're all going to hear something different in music," she said. "So we might introduce the idea that this composer lived in Minnesota and the title of the piece is 'Beyond the Forest' and ask what they heard. One boy in an earlier class said he heard a bird in that piece."

The duo picked pieces to play from a wide array of classics. Some pieces were written as recently as a few years ago, while others spanned back to the late 1800s. Lipke-Perry said they do this to show listeners that "classical music isn't just one particular thing."

"Some people think of classical music as something you either like or you don't," Lipke-Perry said. "But it's more like ice cream in that there are many flavors. Try it and you might find something you like."

The musicians also showcased the wide musical range of their instruments. Students were asked to listen to the notes and move their hands up and down as the pitch increased and decreased.

"We try to keep it pretty active so the students don't lose focus," Gudmundson said.

The Class Notes program is offered to schools for free from Classical MPR and made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.