The Hoop-and-Stick Orchestra


Moco was playing with his hoop-and-stick. This was nothing new—Moco was always playing with his hoop-and-stick. It was his favorite game, and Moco was quite good at it.


He put the stick in the middle of the hoop, and with a flick of his wrist, made the hoop twirl around the stick. He twirled the hoop so fast that it was a blur of motion. And then something wonderful would happen: the hoop would start to sing!


Moco could also flip the hoop into the air, make it turn over and over, and then catch it with his stick before it hit the ground. Six flips was his record; how many times is the hoop flipping here?


Moco was sooo good at hoop-and-stick that everyone on his block made him the Leader of the Hoop-and-Stick Gang Orchestra. How can there be such an orchestra, you might ask?


Well, Moco’s hoops were made of metal bands, and his sticks were tipped with metal. When he twirled metal-against-metal, it made a high-pitched sound, much like when you wet your finger and rub it rapidly around the rim of a thin glass. Try doing that with a bunch of your friends, using different sizes of glasses, and you will get the idea. Moco’s hoops were of different sizes, and he could make each hoop sing at various pitches.


The Stick-and-Hoop Gang Orchestra was made up of five members, counting Moco, the Leader. They practiced every day after school, and sometimes twice on holidays. Each member had different hoops, so it was Moco’s job to coordinate all the different pitches. That’s the job of the Orchestra leader.

Moco would stand in front of his four friends and raise his stick in the air. This was the signal, and everyone else did the same to show they were ready. Five sticks were poised high in the air. But none came down!

"Stop the music! Stop the music!" came a little voice behind the crowd of neighbors.

Oh no! It was Joey--again! Everyone groaned.

"No, you can't play, Joey!" Moco said. "You're too little. You know you can't join the Hoop & Stick Gang Orchestra 'til you're five!"

"But I am! I am five!" Joey protested, holding up one small hand as he wiggled his way through the bigger people. "I became a big boy last week!"

"How can that be?" Moco asked. "You weren't even here. You were at the beach."

"But-but-but" stammered Joey, "my Dad says a person can get to be big at the beach, too! I didn't have to stay home to be five. You see?" he said, shrugging and holding two little palms up to the sky.

"OK, OK, I guess we gotta let you into the Orchestra now," Moco reassured him.

"YAY!" yelled Joey.

"YAY!" yelled everybody else.

"But you gotta practice hard, just like everybody else," Moco warned.

"I will! I will!" Joey announced, jumping up and down on first one leg, then the other.

"First you gotta learn to twirl the hoop. Here--" said Moco, demonstrating a few easy turns of the hoop. "Do this 'til your hand falls off."

"Then what'll I do?" cried Joey.

"Use the other hand," replied Moco, laughing.

Everybody laughed, because they were glad Joey was going to be part of the Orchestra.

And that's how the Orchestra got its newest and littlest member--a member, it might be mentioned, who later went on to be a real orchestra leader. Joey was all grown up by then, but each time he raised his stick in front of the symphony, he remembered his beginning with the Hoop-and-Stick Gang Orchestra.