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Symphony In Depth

Music Education: A Vital Role of the Nashville Symphony

by Dave Felipe

With eighty-three world-class orchestra musicians and a 197,000-square-foot concert hall built to serve the entire community, the Symphony is uniquely positioned to provide music education services to the children of Middle Tennessee. Last school year, the Symphony’s education programs reached tens of thousands of K–12 students in public, private, and home schools. “The Nashville Symphony has an international reputation for artistic excellence,” says Director of Education and Community Engagement Walter Bitner. “But here at home, we’ve also built an important reputation as educators. It’s a role we take very seriously, and that’s evident in the programs we offer and the enthusiasm with which those programs are executed.” The Symphony’s education offerings include a wide range of programs, from concerts at the Schermerhorn to school and community events, all presented in partnership with local school systems and fellow nonprofit organizations:

Free Concerts & Rehearsals: Attended

by more than 20,000 students each year, daytime Young People’s Concerts (YPC) are geared toward specific grade levels, accompanied by downloadable teaching curriculum. Curb Open Dress Rehearsals give K–12 and college students the opportunity to sit in on a Nashville Symphony rehearsal and see firsthand what goes into preparing for a concert. New for 2015/16,

One on a Part offers free chamber music performances, with programs designed to teach students about core musical and thematic concepts.

Instrument Petting Zoos: Giving younger children the chance to play an array of brass, woodwind, percussion, and more, Instrument Petting Zoos are a staple of the family-friendly activities that precede all Saturday-morning Pied Piper Children’s concerts and can also be found at many community events throughout the year. After-School Programs: Working with the Nashville After Zone Alliance, the Symphony visits multiple sites each year to provide hands-on music experiences to middle-school students in the Metro Nashville Public Schools system.

Teacher Resources: is home to a variety of resources, including lesson plans and curricula, the educational “Let’s Go to the Symphony” video, and online tools from partner orchestras and music education groups.

The Symphony’s education programming also includes a concerto competition for high-school musicians, musician-led sectional rehearsals and ensemble performances in local schools, and discounted tickets to classical concerts for students of all ages. And with Nashville’s population steadily growing, Bitner sees opportunities to expand the Symphony’s role even further.

78 | September 2015



nother school year is underway throughout Middle Tennessee, and for the Nashville Symphony, that means a new season of music education programs designed to engage, enrich, and inspire youth throughout the region.

“Everything we do here is designed to foster the foundation for a lifelong appreciation and love of music, regardless of age or background,” he says. “With so many local partners committed to that very same vision, the sky is truly the limit for music education in Music City.” Learn more and watch an informational video at

September 2015, Nashville Arts Magazine  

This month's cover is our very own Nancy (comic strip)​ drawn by Guy Gilchrist​.

September 2015, Nashville Arts Magazine  

This month's cover is our very own Nancy (comic strip)​ drawn by Guy Gilchrist​.