Classical music took on a whole new level of “cool” Monday when about 300 area youths spent time testing out instruments and listening to the musicians who play the notes so eloquently.

Montecito Bank & Trust and the Music Academy of the West hosted a special musical outreach program called “Up Close and Musical” at the Music Academy’s Miraflores campus.

Monday’s festivities, which included a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony by the Academy Festival Orchestra, marked the second year the bank and academy have partnered up to bring music to a young, impressionable generation that otherwise might not have access to the genre.

Buses began arriving at the scenic campus at 9:30 a.m. Monday, as the Léni Fé Bland Plaza overflowed with kids from United Way’s Fun in the Sun program, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, the United Boys & Girls Club of Carpinteria and Casa Pacifica in Ventura.

Creativity and fun seemed the pervasive theme of pre-performance activities, which included children trying their hands at using drums, horns, maracas and more under the careful supervision of academy volunteers, who shared an average age of 22, according to Scott Reed, academy executive director.

Reed said the goal of events such as this was to familiarize children with music that they can then talk about with family and friends, bringing home the importance of the arts.

“Because of the bank, we’re able to do this in Santa Barbara,” he said, noting that the Music Academy would like to continue the partnership for years to come. “Maybe one day they’ll become a Music Academy Fellow. This is such a great training for our fellows.”

Music Academy

Children in United Way’s Fun in the Sun program participate in Monday’s pre-performance activities at the “Up Close and Musical” event, which included coloring music-themed images. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Montecito Bank & Trust volunteers were among those who looked like they were having just as much fun playing around as the visiting children.

More than merely writing a check, bank CEO Janet Garufis said the event allows bank employees to give directly back to the community in a fun, informative way.

“It opens up worlds of opportunities for kids,” Garufis said.

Face painting, crafts, jump rope and decorating your own paper-plate portrait of Beethoven were among other activities.

Sophie Morales, 11, said she enjoyed hitting a cymbal with a mallet during the instrument practice, and the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara member joined a long line of children waiting to try one of several drums.

“I like the rhythms,” Sophie said. “We’re going to listen to music. I like lots of kinds” of music.

Soon after, the loud tones of excited children mellowed to controlled murmurs as they filed into Hahn Hall. There, they readily received a performance by 70 fellows, who seemed as equally engaging behind instruments as they had off stage.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.