At the Houston Symphony, we believe that everyone in our community should have access to great orchestral music regardless of ability to pay. With over 20 free concerts per year, a Student Concert Series that reached over 55,000 students during the 2014-15 Season and numerous free musician visits to schools, hospitals and community centers, we are already working hard to make that vision a reality, but we still want to do more.
This is why the Houston Symphony, Houston Independent School District and Presenting Sponsor BBVA Compass Foundation have launched an unprecedented school residency that will reach more than 400 economically-disadvantaged students at Crespo Elementary. This 3-year pilot program is designed to make classical music accessible to students, parents, school staff and faculty and to deepen the level of music understanding within this school community.
Crespo Elementary is a fine arts magnet school where every student has the opportunity to specialize in art, band, dance, drama or technology. Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musicians Anthony Parce and David Connor visit each fine arts classroom on a bi-weekly basis so that all 3rd-5th grade students, regardless of their fine arts specialty, receive the Houston Symphony residency curriculum. All lessons will take place in school and during school hours and include music appreciation, recorder instruction and composition lessons.
School residency programs are not unique in the orchestra world. So what makes the Houston Symphony School residency at Crespo so special?
- This residency reaches the whole school community. The program will bring students and their families outside of the school and into full concert experiences as part of the Houston Symphony’s family and student concert series at Jones Hall. Additionally, the Houston Symphony will also bring ensembles to Crespo for Family Chamber Concert Nights. The residency at Crespo Elementary aims to weave orchestral music into the fabric of the school community, including the families of the students.
This residency connects the students to the stage. While many orchestras across the country have teaching artists that bring music into the schools, the concept of a community-embedded musician is unique to the industry. One of the biggest differences between the Houston Symphony community-embedded musicians and other top-tier orchestra teaching artists is that the Crespo students will actually be able to see their community-embedded musician on stage at the concerts!
- This residency is about the process. Mr. Connor and Mr. Parce prioritize inquiry-based instruction that inspires creativity through music. Students are learning that an important part of listening to music is asking questions and creating their own meaning. The hope is that every student will learn to find his or her voice through actively perceiving and interpreting music. As part of this inquiry-based instruction, the students will learn basic skills of music composition and create a group “musical adventure” project, which will be premiered at Crespo Elementary’s Fine Arts Night in May.
The Houston Symphony is thrilled to be participating in this unique residency at Crespo Elementary along with presenting sponsor BBVA Compass Foundation. The Houston Symphony also thanks Spec’s Charitable Foundation/Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods, the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, Medistar, Mr. Jay Steinfeld & Mrs. Barbara Winthrop, and Nancy & Robert Peiser for their generous support of the Community-Embedded Musicians.