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Link Up: Flat Tchaikovsky

Did you know that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducted Carnegie Hall’s first opening night concert? A well-traveled artist, Tchaikovsky was excited about New York City and all it had to offer. To celebrate this iconic moment and Tchaikovsky’s many adventures, we have asked Link Up participants to show us where they would take Flat Tchaikovsky if he was a guest in their hometowns.

Victoria Wolfe, a Link Up teacher from PS 64 in Queens, wanted to see just how far Flat Tchaikovsky could go, so she started a Flat Tchaikovsky project with the help of her third grade class. We had the chance to speak to Victoria about the project.

Can you tell us what this project consists of for your third graders?

First, 120 eight-year-olds, each armed with nothing more than a box of crayons, produced a whole lot of colorful renditions of the picture of Tchaikovsky in their Link Up: The Orchestra Rocks workbooks. Then, I asked my musician friends on social media if they would bring Flat Tchaikovsky around with them to their events and share photos with us. There were many volunteers for the mission!

As the pictures arrive, I add them to the Flat Tchaikovsky project bulletin board. I also post the photos on—a social media site specifically designed for safe use by students—so that my third graders can peruse them at home. I also project them on a Smart Board at school and use the pictures to generate discussions about the many different options available to people who want to work in the field of music.

What were your goals for this project?

I hoped that the Flat Tchaikovsky project would spiral out from the first group of musicians I contacted. The idea was—and still is—to show my third graders that anyone can live a life in music. There are participants who are devoted amateur adult musicians; high school band, orchestra, and chorus musicians; highly respected professionals; and people who work with musicians or in music but are not actually musicians themselves.

How are your students reacting to the photos?

The third graders really enjoy seeing pictures of people from all over the world working in the arts, but it goes beyond their interest in new and unusual jobs. The idea that people care enough about them to take the time to dream up funny photos and write them notes captivates them on a much deeper level. And of course, there are questions. A LOT of questions.

What do you hope your students will ultimately get out of this project?

Of course, I’m glad that the project is teaching them to address envelopes and put stamps in the right place. Those skills are at the basic level. I also hope it connects them to ideas about what they can do with their lives. I hope they see and understand that music can be a beautiful and profound way to recognize and celebrate E pluribus unum (Out of many, one).

Flat Tchaik: Image 1
Victoria Wolfe, a music teacher at PS 64 in Queens, sending out Flat Tchaikovsky all across the country.

Flat Tchaik: Image 2
A student at PS 64 in Queens poses with Flat Tchaikovsky.

Flat Tchaik: Image 3
Flat Tchaikovsky giving a hand to the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal tubist Gregory Fritze.

Flat Tchaik: Image 4
Mezzo soprano Abigail Levis admires Flat Tchaikovsky’s sparkling wit as he entertains her in her dressing room during a rehearsal for her role as L’enfant in L’enfant et les sortilèges.

Flat Tchaik: Image 5
Flat Tchaikovsky inspects the instrument case of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
violist Nardo Poy while he takes a break from practicing.

Flat Tchaik: Image 6
Flat Tchaikovsky helps timpanist Don Larsen tune up for the
Long Island Choral Society’s performance of Haydn’s The Creation.

Flat Tchaik: Image 7
Flat Tchaikovsky amuses his friend, Alexander Knutrud, by examining the bell of his trombone.

Flat Tchaik: Image 8
Flat Tchaikovsky makes sure the bassoons and contrabassoons are ready for
Haydn’s The Creation with the Long Island Choral Society.

Flat Tchaik: Image 9
Flat Tchaikovsky with the Boston University Trombone Choir. The recording session is finished, and it’s only 1 AM!
He is tired and will nap in someone’s instrument case.

Flat Tchaik: Image 10
Flat Tchaikovsky shows interest in the technical end of the music business,
assisting recording engineer Patrick Keating with the Boston University Trombone Choir recording.

Link Up would love see what Flat Mozart and Flat Beethoven have been up to as well! Submit photos of their adventures in your hometown to Carnegie Hall’s Link Up Facebook Page, or to

Flat Mozart Flat Beethoven
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