April 25, 2012
Letter from the Editor
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” In the spirit of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s “Seussebration,” I have opened this edition of the League Update for Education and Community Engagement with a fitting quote from the man himself. Colleagues around the country are exploring rich ways to inspire both themselves (see the personal perspective on mentoring from Dacy Gillespie in St. Louis) and their communities these days, and it’s amazing to see how many different shapes these initiatives take. From high-level training for aspiring composers and elementary string students, to broad-based programs that bring new excitement for music to large audiences, there is something that can apply to almost every community and situation. Thanks to all of you who submitted, and I can’t wait to welcome you all to my home town in June, where we can enjoy sharing our recent lessons learned and look forward to future successes. “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed).”
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
From the League – Meet us in Dallas!
EDCE friends – please join us in Dallas this June for Conference, which once again will be preceded by a dedicated special half-day of professional development on Tuesday, June 5th just for EDCE folks. In lieu of our Mid-Year Constituent meeting, our supersized EDCE half-day, kept to the low additional registration rate of $25, will be a carefully designed exploration of the intersection of assessment, community engagement, and communicating public value – a set of topics always of interest to our constituent group and ever growing in importance! The half-day will include some hands-on assessment training and discussing how to communicate the impact of EDCE engagement in schools and the community. During Conference itself, EDCE constituency sessions will cover topics such as orchestras engaging in health and wellness work, lifelong learning and Creative Aging, and provide an opportunity for EDCE delegates to share best practices with one another.
Other sessions of interest include:
• Pre-Conference Orchestra Leadership Seminars on “Community Partnerships & Public Value: Music Programs in Healthcare Settings,” and “Inclusion and Diversity Work at Orchestras”
• Toolbox sessions on “Changing the System: A Strategic Approach to Making a Difference;” “Inclusion and Diversity: A Big Tent Approach;” “El Sistema Takes Root;” “Getting in on the Act;” and “Proving Our Case: Public Value Essentials”
• Perspective sessions on “Deepening Community Engagement/Earning Public Value;” “Inventing the Future;” and “Check This Out!”
• Don’t forget our general sessions too, which will include “A Call To Action” by Clive Gillinson of Carnegie Hall.
REGISTER TODAY! Early registration ends April 30th, so don’t delay. Also, please join us for an informal pay-your-own-way EDCE dinner on the evening of June 5th, 2012!
Gaining Confidence through Peer Mentoring
by Dacy Gillespie, St. Louis Symphony
In the fall of 2010, I was relatively new to the field of arts administration. Having been a bass player in the New World Symphony, a public school music teacher, an extra in the St. Louis Symphony, and a part-timer on the SLSO staff, I felt my new job as Education Programs Manager was perfect, but I was unfamiliar with standard practices in arts administration. This was a mixed blessing because I brought with me ideas that worked from the perspectives of both a musician (boring the musicians on stage is not a good idea for education concerts, for example) and a teacher (anything that is not useful in the classroom is a waste of time), but I also felt lost when it came to interdepartmental relations, budgets, and memos.
When the League offered me the opportunity to sign up for peer advising, I jumped at the chance. I was paired with Jessica Schmidt, who was Senior Director of Community Programs for the Pittsburgh Symphony at the time. We scheduled monthly phone calls, and I kept a running list of questions to ask. Often, our conversations would start with my questions but eventually end covering a host of issues that affected both of us. Once in a while, I found that I could actually help Jessica as well.
Each organization has its own culture and way of doing things. As someone who’d been at several different organizations, Jessica could give me a broader picture of the national scene and provide an outside perspective. I was able to build trust in my own ideas because Jessica was there to confirm my instincts. There was a great security in knowing that I could run things by such an experienced and wise sounding board.
Even though our formal mentorship ended in the fall of 2011, Jessica and I decided to continue speaking regularly. To be honest, I still don’t know how to write a memo, and I’ve learned that budgets are just something to cut, but I’ve gained a professional relationship and a friendship that I look forward to continuing for years to come.
Education Programs from the Field
Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Music Memory
125 teams, representing over 12,000 Dallas ISD students in grades 3-5, will participate in the final round of the Music Memory competition in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center this May.
This is the DSO’s eighth year to host the final round of the Music Memory competition, which provides elementary students a deep understanding and appreciation of the world's greatest music. It is the fourth year that the event will feature side-by-side performances by musicians and singers from the local Arts Magnet High School with members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. DSO Director of Education, Jamie Allen, will conduct. This concert/competition will include excerpts and a few full selections taken from a list of 16 masterpieces from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary eras, studied by Dallas ISD students during the 2011-12 school year. Honorary judges this year will be the DSO President and the Dallas ISD Executive Director of Fine Arts.
While Music Memory is a nationally available program, Dallas is unique in two respects: every elementary school in the district participates, and the culminating event incorporates a side-by-side concert experience. All participating students receive ribbons, and all teams with the top 3 scores receive trophies that are proudly displayed on their campuses.
Los Angeles Philharmonic: Composer Fellowship Program
The Composer Fellowship Program in Los Angeles is an innovative, two year program designed to give passionate young composers the tools and the freedom to shape the future of music. Private and group composition lessons, seminars presented by LA Phil musicians, and encounters with professionals in the field, propel Fellows to excellence. Students experience the creative process from start to finish with the help of accomplished composers. At the end of the process, these young composers have the remarkable opportunity to hear their works performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Throughout their tenure in the program, the fellows are led and inspired by their mentors; Program Director, and recent recipient of the Charles Ives Living Award, James Matheson, and teaching assistant A.J. McCaffrey.
West Virginia Symphony Orchestra: Dr. Seuss Concert and Activities
What could be more fun that a Dr. Seuss-themed concert within days of a bunch of schools celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday? WV Symphony Orchestra partnered with Read Aloud WV, Kanawha County Public Library, and The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences for a recent family concert. Five cases of Fuzzoodles, an instrument petting zoo, WVSO maestro Grant Cooper featured on a reading show, Highlights magazines distributed at the concert, a life-sized Dr. Seuss-inspired instrument on display, student-composed versions of Dr. Seuss books in the style of rap, and finally local restaurants serving Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast, or One Fish, Two Fish ice cream, were all part of the “Seussebration.”
Check out our life-size instrument here.
Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras: A New Model for Elementary Students
Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras (SYSO) expanded a long-standing program for public middle schools to create a new model supporting elementary instrumental music instruction in an underserved neighborhood in Southwest Seattle. SYSO provided professional teaching musicians to coach 4th and 5th grade students on string instruments and work alongside the public school instrumental music specialists to strengthen the program. This led to higher rates of enrollment and retention. After two years the orchestra enrollment at the middle school, into which these elementary schools feed, tripled and necessitated the increase of the public middle school orchestra director’s class load. Not only has the program participation increased, but an arts organization has enabled a public school to justify increasing its own school arts staffing because of this increased enrollment. SYSO remains committed to this community and foresees the over 260 students in the elementary program this year continuing their music studies all the way through high school. This will lead to the creation of a robust high school orchestra, which currently has about only 17 students but in a few years will fill the high school stage with a full orchestra of dedicated young classical musicians.
This project has been supported by the Wallace Foundation which has enabled SYSO to fund extensive program evaluation of the impact of the program both in terms of accomplishment in musical learning and the social and emotional growth of the students.
Symphony Orchestra Augusta: A New Vision for “Making Music Connections”
Over the last three years, Symphony Orchestra Augusta (SOA) has embarked on a re-envisioning of its education and community engagement programs. Currently in its 57th season, SOA is the primary professional orchestra serving the 650,000 residents of the Central Savannah River Area. One outcome of this process is the introduction of a residency program featuring both touring ensembles and SOA musician ensembles in the Columbia County Music Series (CCMS), which was successfully piloted during the 2010-11 season. SOA is now building on the success of this pilot by enhancing the residency program. In January 2012, SOA presented the Doric String Quartet in a 5-day residency, culminating in a sold-out performance. Over 5,000 children and adults were served by the residency activities and performance. Also featured in the 2011-12 residency programs were SOA Principal Flutist Wendy Cohen, SOA Principal Harpist Vonda Darr, and the Georgia Guitar Quartet, all of whom participated in 2-day residency activities and CCMS performances.
Guest artists, SOA Guest Concertmasters, and SOA professional musicians visit area schools to perform, teach, and inspire area students through master classes and instrument workshops. SOA continues to expand and develop a consistent and sustainable program of band clinics and instrument instruction to support students at the middle and high school levels. The goals of these new initiatives are to provide young people in the area with an integrated educational arts experience and to an enhance SOA’s potential for transforming young lives.
Utah Symphony: “Utah Symphony Recommends” Poster
At the suggestion of a school orchestra teacher, the Utah Symphony created a poster for the 2011-12 season called Utah Symphony Recommends. The poster has the repertoire for all of the season's Masterworks concerts, with corresponding columns for each of the instruments. Utah Symphony musicians were asked to identify two or three concerts in the season that a student of their instrument should not miss. As you can imagine, there was the temptation to mark the strings for every concert! The poster was designed to fit on 11 x 17 paper, and a PDF version was place on the symphony’s web site so that individuals could print it for themselves. The posters were mailed to all secondary instrumental music departments in a large geographic area around Salt Lake. It’s been fun for the symphony musicians and staff to see the posters up in music rooms throughout the region and to be able to reinforce their use with school music teachers. The posters were also useful for the box office and the development department, where they often receive questions about which concerts feature a particular instrument. The poster is available here.
New Resources You Can Use
The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth
The National Endowment for the Arts released a research report indicating several positive outcomes associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of low socioeconomic status. According to a study led by James S. Catterall of four separate longitudinal studies, at-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school appear to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement than at-risk students who do not.
Federal Snapshot of Arts Education Released by U.S. Department of Education
Following the May 2011 “First Look” preview, the long-awaited federal snapshot of Arts Education, "Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999-2000 and 2009-10" (also known as the Fast Response Survey System) was released in full on April 2, 2012. This survey, conducted by the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES), in partnership with the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education, is the first collection of information in 10 years. Principals and teachers (including arts specialists as well as elementary classroom teachers) reported during the 2009-2010 school year on the conditions of K-12 arts education. The League, together with its national partners, is working to create a toolkit to help orchestras understand and communicate about the Snapshot FRSS results and will make these tools available online soon.
The Arts Education Partnership has newly launched ArtsEdSearch.org, a digital clearinghouse of research and policy information about the educational outcomes of arts learning, both in and out of school. ArtsEdSearch.org contains 200 summaries of high quality research studies that include all arts forms and all levels of education.
The April 2012 issue of The Ensemble: A Newsletter for the U.S. El Sistema Movement, is now available. The League has posted the first three issues online, but feel free to obtain your own subscription directly by sending an email with instructions to:
To SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE from this list, or to CHANGE your e-mail address, please send your name, title, orchestra or organization name, mailing address and e-mail address to
and put "EDUCATION & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT UPDATE" in the subject line.
Please direct any related questions to Jessica Balboni, Director of Orchestra Leadership Academy,
or Najean Lee, Senior Manager of Education Advocacy,
The League of American Orchestras, 33 West 60th Street, Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10023-7905