Education Programs Overview
Long Beach Symphony Music Education
With a belief that the arts substantially promotes healthy human development, the Long Beach Symphony has worked tirelessly to encourage and guide young minds in the joyous exploration of their talents and creativity. We believe that the arts are a critical tool in a child’s social and emotional development, ability to communicate, problem solve, develop fine motor skills and discover a form of expression that makes us fundamentally human. Art and music are a manifestation and extension of ourselves and thus a uniquely individual tool for self-development.
For almost 40 years, the Long Beach Symphony has focused on providing free education programs to youth in our city. Our Elementary Ensemble concerts are annually performed on-site at every elementary school in the city, serving 10,000 children in 65 performances at 60 schools. Additionally, every 4th and 5th grader – 12,000 students a year – are bused free of charge to our concert hall to enjoy a fun, interactive and educational symphony performance. To date nearly 1,000,000 children have enjoyed hearing and seeing concerts of accessible music performed by world-class musicians.
Please read below for an overview of our inspiring and free education programs that serve more than 27,000 K-12 students and teachers annually.
Instrument Petting Zoo
The Long Beach Symphony brings the Instrument Petting Zoo to several of the Long Beach neighborhood libraries and community events. Our volunteers give a special presentation designed to pique the interest of very young children in making music. They explain how the instruments of the orchestra work, how they make different sounds, and how they fit into the orchestra as a whole. After the presentation children have the opportunity to attempt creating a sound from each instrument. It is a unique opportunity for children and parents alike to explore the orchestra. The joy children express when making a sound on an instrument for the first time is truly priceless.
In 2018, the Symphony launched a new Family Concert that includes pre- and post-concert entertainment activities for children of all ages on the Plaza of the Beverly O’Neill Performing Arts Center. Designed entirely for children to enjoy with their families and friends, these concerts are free for all children and 500 vouchers for free admission are distributed to lower income residents through a partnership with the Long Beach City Council and local libraries. This annual event offers interactive family activities including arts, crafts, food and performances, and includes an instrument petting zoo for children to touch and play actual symphonic instruments. Attendees are then invited inside the Terrace Theater to enjoy a 50-minute matinee concert with Maestro Eckart Preu, special guests, and the Long Beach Symphony.
This concert, which will continue in the 2022/23 season, is made possible by a generous multi-year grant from The RuMBa Foundation of Long Beach.
Elementary School Ensembles
Long Beach Symphony partners with the Long Beach Unified School District and four schools in Wilmington to present chamber ensembles to 2nd and 3rd graders in an assembly setting. Our teaching artists’ present performances that demonstrate each instrument family – strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Through the presentations, students learn about the instruments of the orchestra, how they create sound and what role each instrument or instrument family plays within the orchestra. The ensemble presentations also introduce students to how music plays a role in our everyday lives. The Symphony strives to align the content of the Elementary Ensemble program with State Visual and Performing Arts Standards and Core Curriculum. The Elementary Ensemble program helps prepare students to experience the full orchestra, live in the Long Beach Terrace Theater.
Toyota Youth Concerts
12,000 4th and 5th-grade students of the Long Beach Unified School District and select Wilmington schools are bussed to the Long Beach Terrace Theater for the opportunity to experience the orchestra LIVE in the concert hall. Programming is selected to align with the curriculum students are studying in their classrooms to help them make connections between music, math, science, and history. The concert also has a side-by-side performance aspect including the LBUSD All-District High School Orchestra or Choir. The most exceptional student musicians in the Long Beach Unified School District are invited to perform on stage alongside the musicians of the Long Beach Symphony for the Toyota Youth Concerts. This rare and very exciting opportunity gives these special students an inside look at how a professional orchestra operates, and the expectations they need to reach to pursue a professional career in music.
These specially-themed Symphony Concerts for Young People are made possible by the generous support of the Long Beach Unified School District Board of Directors and are not public performances.
Middle School Rehearsal
Outstanding middle school orchestra students are invited to observe the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal for the Symphony Concerts for Young People. This learning experience provides a rare opportunity to see how a professional orchestra learns, behaves, and progresses quickly. Students are provided with program notes on each piece and discussion questions about what they observe. The students are always impressed by how quickly the orchestra corrects mistakes, how attentive they are to the director, and how well they play together. This observation helps them to improve their own orchestral experience at school and inspires them to keep working hard on their own instrument. The observation is followed by a Q&A session with the Conducting Fellow, in which students can discuss what they have seen, what they learned, and what they plan on doing to change and improve their own musical experience at school.
Side-By-Side refers to that special time when student musicians experience the thrill of rehearsing and performing with the professional musicians of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. Student musicians of the Long Beach Unified School District’s All-District High School Honor Orchestra and Honor Choir have this experience. This rare and exciting opportunity gives these special students an inside look at how a professional orchestra operates and the expectations they need to reach in order to pursue a professional career in music. The Long Beach Symphony musicians enjoy the opportunity to share their wisdom and knowledge gained from years of experience, and the students learn first-hand the excitement, intensity, and thrill of a high-caliber performance created through hard work, professionalism, and discipline. This season’s Symphony Concerts for Young People are performed side-by-side with the LBUSD All-District High School Honor Choir.
High School Volunteers
The Long Beach Symphony is privileged to have a thriving relationship with the talented high school students in the Long Beach Unified School District. For every Classical concert, high school volunteers act as ushers, welcoming our patrons, passing out programs and other promotional materials, and helping our patrons find their seats. They bring a youthful energy to each performance. For each Pops concert, the students arrive early on Saturday morning to set up the tables, place decorations, and make other necessary preparations. These volunteer opportunities connect the students to the Symphony and the hours help the students fulfill their community service requirement for high school graduation. Each student receives a complimentary ticket to the concert for which they volunteer.
The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra has a special opportunity for those high school students who demonstrate a high level of maturity, responsibility, and dedication. Students who volunteer for at least one year and demonstrate above-average leadership skills are invited to join Overture, where they will work more closely with the Long Beach Symphony staff and have more responsibility. These special students also act as leaders for the other high school volunteers and have the chance to develop their own sense of independence and integrity.