Teaching children the art of symphony music

Teaching children the art of symphony music

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Symphony music is something special that is beautiful and enriching to listen to. Many of us tend to think that this type of music is for certain type of people and that not everybody could understand it. Maybe we are right, but remember that music is for everyone no matter the color, race, age or gender.

This is what the Santa Barbara Symphony Music Education Center thinks and applies. This educational institute which is part of the Santa Barbara Symphony Corporation is taking music to everyone everywhere, starting with children all around the Santa Barbara area. How are they doing it? Let’s take a look at their history and programs for the children.

The Santa Barbara Symphony started in the year 1953 because there was a general view and feeling that the city needed an orchestra due to its cultural and artistic context. The Symphony had their very first concert on the 12th of December in the year 1953 and they did it at the  Lobero Theatre and the director was Adolphe Frezin. The start was small and modest, but a lot of people showed up and the idea was already moving. In the year 1961, the symphony was already a bit famous and they were now a bit big for the Lobero Theatre and started to perform at the Granada Theatre. In 1976, the Symphony was still growing at a pace that nobody imagined and they had to move to the Arlington Theatre that had just been renovated.

Since then they have played at this theater and they are well-known for their amazing concerts, the community participation, and their dynamic music education programs. They are always looking for innovative ways to showcase music and to impress the public with their concerts and that is why they are recognized as a premier cultural institution.

Santa Barbara Symphony Music Education Center

The center covers almost 5,000 students in the Santa Barbara County each year by taking programs and concerts to their community following their mission of enriching communities through powerful musical experiences that carry a lot of passion, work, dedication and professionalism and providing the community with music education with no discrimination whatsoever.

The main idea is to connect music artists and musicians to children and young adults; then, connect children and young adults to music, and in turn connect music to the community. The education center understands the importance of teaching music in a child´s life and how it can contribute to being a successful person in the 21st century.  The programs are aimed at all levels starting from the first time a child touches an instrument until he or she can be at a performing level in the  Youth Symphony.

In their Education center, they have 6 programs that teach children since level 0 until they are ready to perform. Here are their programs.

Image courtesy of Santa Barbara Symphony at thesymphony.org
  • The music Van:  this is a strange thing to say, but it is a van that serves as a music classroom. The van is filled with orchestral instruments and a couple of very motivated music teachers and they go to elementary schools in the  South County. The idea is to take music to children that are in the 3rd grade and give them their first opportunity of playing an instrument.
  • Concerts for youngsters: these concerts are aimed at children in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade and they are done every year at the Granada Theatre.  The idea is to give the children a real classical music concert setting so they can live it first-hand. Of course, the concert is designed to be kid friendly and the Teachers are given lesson plans prior to the concert so they can relate the concerts to their curriculum.
  • String workshop:  this workshop is aimed at children that have basic skills in string instruments and it is given at the Goleta Unified School District and in the Hope School District for the kids that like to play the violin. The workshop is free and the instruments are provided for free. The group meets once per week with an instructor and they practice in groups of 3 to 6 kids.
  • The junior orchestra: as its name says it, it is an ensemble aimed at children that have basic skills in strings, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments and that are between 9 and 14 years old. There is a membership fee and there are also many scholarships for this program.
  • The youth symphony:  this symphony is for more advanced students that are between 12 and 18 years old. They have a rehearsal every week and fees are required to enter.
  • The hands on festival: this is a new festival launched in 2016 and will be done every year. It is a free and community festival where all the community can listen to young artists and have the opportunity to try out some of the instruments.

Be sure to also read this post about Hillside house: helping adults with developmental disabilities.

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