In response to the orchestra in-school program entries from earlier in the week, I received an email from Beth, a cellist in a southwest orchestra. She related her experiences growing up as a public school student and having been exposed to the orchestra through an education initiative. However, her experiences didn’t include in-school programs, only traveling to the concert hall for performances. It made a lasting impression that influences the assessment of her in-school programs.
“When I was in elementary school, I remember having to dress up and learn the etiquette and history of the symphony concert. It was a privilege to go and we all knew it. I think it is very important for school children to see and experience music in a hall, as I remember it focusing my attention and creating a sense of awe at the volume and power of the music.
I am saddened to see the kids I play for in their “cafitoriums”, sitting in a spaced out fashion like they were there for just another school wide announcement. The focus in a real concert is so much more direct in a concert hall. I don’t think it would cost the schools that much more to get busses of kids to a symphony concert as opposed to us going to their schools. I think it would be a much better solution than the small ensemble “Band-Aid” solutions I participate in.”
For the in-school comparisons I intentionally left out any mention of other education initiatives because I did not want to stray from the center of the comparison. However, Beth raises an interesting point that not all orchestras address evenly. In a previous Reader Response we learned that the New York Philharmonic does require schools that participate with their in-school program to also attend two education concerts at their hall. I think all orchestras should create similar provisions in their programs. It sounds like Beth wishes her orchestra did too.