EducationWatch: Musical Adventures

San Francisco Symphony celebrates 20 years of Adventures In Music program
Laurel Fishman

The San Francisco Symphony's Adventures In Music recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as the longest-running community music education program of its kind. AIM is free and serves San Francisco students in public elementary schools and in several independent and parochial schools by supporting academic and visual arts instruction through an interdisciplinary curriculum integrating multicultural music, live performances and music learning experiences. The program also offers teacher training and professional development, with related resources such as musical instruments, books, videos, maps and CDs. In addition to AIM, SFS's extensive education and community efforts include Concerts For Kids, the Youth Orchestra, and Keeping Score. is a free educational resource featuring the Music Lab, a portal where children can create music and learn about instrumentation, tempo, rhythm, harmony and more. The comprehensive Keeping Score program includes a PBS television series, interactive Web sites, DVD documentaries and teaching education programs. "The MTT Files," Keeping Score's syndicated radio series, recently won a Peabody Award for Radio Programming.

Renowned flutists Sir James Galway and his wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, recently hosted The Galway Flute Workshop for children in Los Angeles on June 18. Among the participants were student flutists in L.A. Philharmonic education programs for underserved communities. At the workshop, Sir James encouraged the students to develop performing opportunities at places such as nursing homes and community events before closing the event with a student performance. The workshop coincided with Sir James' induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame at the 9th Annual Hollywood Bowl Opening Concert on June 20, where 30 of the more advanced workshop students played onstage with the Galways. The Galway Web sites, and, are devoted to aspiring musicians, educators and flute lovers, in addition to providing information on their year-round educational activities. Sir James was honored with a President's Merit Award by The Recording Academy in 2004.

Spurred on by favorable results from a 2008 opinion poll regarding music and the arts in schools, national coalition Imagine Nation is steadily growing. The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners, and company president Celinda Lake reported, "Voters react very strongly to the idea of combining the basics with the arts for the cultivation of the imagination" and believe "an education in the arts makes a major contribution to participating in a group, being a team player, learning to set goals and respecting multiple values and perspectives." Within the coalition, the Arts Education Partnership is working to increase awareness about imagination and innovation as key outcomes of learning, propounding that most voters believe an education in and through the arts is essential to developing capacities of the imagination, thereby empowering students to achieve. National Assembly of State Arts Agencies CEO Jonathan Katz commented that Imagine Nation research will stimulate state arts agency investments in arts education, encourage arts learning advocacy, and help influence decision makers in making arts education a priority.

Children's artist Cory Cullinan (aka Doctor Noize) has pledged to identify one monthly performance from his interactive, educational musical experience for children as a charitable Doctor Noize Giving Back show. The idea evolved from a recent Mothers Day benefit concert Cullinan organized in Palo Alto, Calif., to raise funds for a 3-year-old who lost her mother. At these imaginative events, kids get to explore their musical creativity as Cullinan performs music ranging from classical to funk and arranges and records an audience participation song. Kids go onstage to dance and contribute vocals, percussion and keyboard parts, and there are also improvised a capella pieces. Cullinan teaches elements of tempo, orchestration, lyrics and meter — the latter through the audience counting seven beats per measure, then counting five, then shouting, "Don't Be Silly," the title of a song on his latest CD, The Ballad Of Phineas McBoof. During readings taken from his book of the same title, Cullinan performs songs and rewrites the ending with the audience by adding a new character playing a new musical instrument. Through all of his artistic endeavors, Cullinan delivers a pro-music message that is creative, educational and fun.

Washington, D.C.-based music teacher Yusef Chisholm was recently presented with the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award in recognition for his positive impact on students and strong commitment to music education. Chisholm claims music was a positive force in his life in learning to play bass and tuba and helping to keep him off the streets in his youth. In his six years at Hardy Middle School, Chisholm has taught hundreds of students to play musical instruments and organized dozens of bands. He currently teaches 165 students in grades sixth through eighth. Chisholm collaborated with fellow colleagues to develop a school computer composition lab where students can compose and record and has also contributed his musical skills to Washington, D.C., nonprofits such as the D.C. Youth Ensemble and the Diamond Girls Jazz Band.

(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for and GRAMMY Magazine, and she is an advocate for the benefits of music making, music listening, music education, music therapy and music-and-the-brain research.)

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