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Kids are the stars at MATCH Family Fun Day

When the gathering drums sound, the kids take the stage.

Members of the public are the performers when local arts organization Prelude leads concerts at the 5th annual MATCH Family Fun Day Sunday at MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston).

With a guitarist, violinist, drummer and a singer encouraging participation, all ages are invited to hit the stage to join in songs like “This Little Light of Mine” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

“There’s a lot of clapping, stomping and hands up in the air,” says Prelude’s Margaret Owen, describing the group concerts each year at the free event as a “dance party.”

“It’s really exciting to see mommies, daddies, grandparents, great-grandparents and young, young children singing and dancing and being a part of the music,” adds Prelude’s director Ana Treviño-Godfrey.

“Not just receiving the music,” she adds, but “really being a part of music-making.”

5th Annual MATCH Family Fun Day

When: 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: MATCH, 3400 Main

Details: Free; matchhouston.org

Of the small singers who climb on stage, she says, “They don’t even know that they’re performing, which is maybe the most beautiful part of it all.”

At community concerts like the ones at MATCH this weekend, Prelude chooses songs that are “musically rich… that don’t sound like kiddo music,” Treviño-Godfrey says.

There are songs in Spanish, too, in addition to “what we call songs without words… giving even babies a chance to really jam with us,” she says.

“It’s about … building community through making music together,” she says of the 45-minute concerts.

Art from stage to sidewalk

With 10 family-friendly performances taking place throughout the free event, the aim of MATCH’s annual celebration is to expose families to the types of local arts organizations that perform at the facility, says MATCH’s managing director Kirk Markley.

His team is expecting 600-800 attendees, who will come for bounce houses, face painting, a balloon artist and a stilt walker.

There’s a DJ to add to the fun, and food is for sale.

Local chalk artist Melissa Eason will “paint” a portion of MATCH’s breezeway, and kids are encouraged to help add to the art.

Once the children realize they can join in on the public art project, Markley says, inspiration can strike without warning.

“It’s fun to watch them dancing and, all of sudden, they’ll just sit down and grab a piece of chalk,” Markley laughs.

In addition to Prelude’s group performances, Main Street Theater will perform four excerpts from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Open Dance Project will take the stage to perform dance numbers inspired by “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The group’s aerial-based work, which involves skillfully climbing silks, is something children find mesmerizing each year, Markley says.

“The kids are always just wowed by that because of the acrobatics involved,” he says.

Of the exposure to performing and visual arts at the annual event, which has grown each year, Markley says, “It’s nice to see kids spend an entire afternoon having fun without screens.”

The sound of Houston

At events like these, “it’s great to see families that really represent our entire city… building life-long musical memories together,” Treviño-Godfrey says.

Music has the power to “bring the community together as one, no matter our background, no matter what we look like, whatever your different values might be,” she says. “When we’re making music, we feel like one. We feel united.”

It’s especially memorable when a child sees his or her parents shed their inhibitions and join in.

“We know that parents are their children’s most important role models,” says Owen. “Children learn from what their parents do and will feel comfortable making music” when they see their parents do so, she says.

Making music together as a family provides kids with joyful, unique memories, Treviño-Godfrey adds.

“Music is a wonderful tool to do that,” she says. “It’s another way to say, ‘I love you’ to a child.”

Allison Bagley is a Houston-based writer.