One of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s missions is to introduce the wonderful world of instrumental music to students. By offering these programs, the MSO hopes to inspire students to develop or continue their interest in symphonic music. The MSO supports various programs of benefit to students in Worcester County Public Schools, Sussex County Schools, and any other schools in our performance area who make requests. The MSO school programs this past school year reached over 1,100 students in Worcester County, MD and 145 students in Sussex County, DE.
In the past seven years the MSO has had programs in ten schools (some several times), introduced twelve different symphony instruments to students, had 88 presentations by MSO musicians, and reached 4,920 students.
On June 18, 2017, the partnership of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the Worcester County Public Schools was recognized at the Worcester County Board of Education Meeting. Tamara Mills, the school system’s Coordinator of Instruction for Music and the Arts, gave a brief summary of the symphony’s support for the school system’s music program. JoFran Falcon, MSO Vice President of Education and Outreach, gave a short explanation of our programs including the fact that the MSO had reached 1,148 of Worcester County Public School students in six schools during the 2017-18 school year. Ms. Falcon accepted on behalf of the symphony, a plaque which certifies that the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra is recognized for outstanding contributions to the youth of Worcester County. The presentation of this Certificate of Recognition is very much appreciated by the MSO Board!
Our current programs are listed below.
• Note-Worthy Instrument Program: Loans the instruments free-of-charge to students who cannot obtain their own. We now have thirty-one donated instruments in our collection. These instruments are repaired or refurbished and then loaned (along with a maintenance kit) to students who do not have the means to purchase an instrument. Arrangements for a loan are made through the instrumental music teachers.
• A-B-C Me Play! Program: Introduces the violin to third grade elementary students at no charge to them. The symphony owns the violins and pays the violin teacher. The students have 10 violin lessons where they learn to play one or two simple pieces. This program gives young students the opportunity to learn about the instrument and hopefully inspires some of them to be part of an instrumental program the following year in their intermediate school.
• School Programs & Master Classes: Teachers request to have professional MSO musicians come to their school and work with their students. The elementary teachers often ask for two musicians who play different instruments. They want the musicians to introduce their instrument to the students, play a short piece either separately or together and then have a “hands on” time when the students actually try to play the instruments. The band and string orchestra teachers with older students are requesting several different MSO musicians for their band and orchestra classes. They want the musicians to listen to their students play pieces that they are learning in class, and then conduct individual Master Classes for their specific instrument with the students. The musicians work with the students on improving their individual techniques and performance. Then the students assemble again and hopefully, present an improved performance. Often the musicians perform a short piece individually or as a group for the students. This program provides a unique opportunity for young people to have personal contact with professional musicians, improve their own playing, and see the capabilities of their own instrument.
• Student Concert Tickets: The MSO continues to offer a limited number of free tickets to MSO concerts to 18-year-olds and under. Reservations for these tickets are required. The MSO contacts area teachers and offers an invitation for students when tickets are available.
There is no money in the MSO operating budget for these programs. They are funded solely by donations and grants from individuals and community organizations. We have been able to provide the programs requested by the teachers for their students through the generosity of Mr. Michael Jahnigen, Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, American Legion Synepuxent Post 166 in Ocean City, Berlin/Ocean City Optimist Club, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, #2645, Ocean City Lioness, and individual donors. The MSO is very grateful to these supporters who give us the opportunity to give students a positive musical experience by professional musicians that they otherwise would not have. Additional financial support and instrument donations are always welcomed.
Click here to read An Initiation to Classical Music: A Letter to a Neophyte