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Arts on Tour

College of Southern Idaho

A cornerstone of the College of Southern Idaho’s mission statement is to provide cultural opportunities for the community. To that end, the Arts on Tour performing arts series was created in 1988. This series, which brings international touring performing artists to the Magic Valley, has a long history of artistic excellence. In partnership with the Magic Valley Arts Council and school districts, Arts on Tour brings a number of these performers to local students free of charge to them and their schools. During the 2018-19 Season, Arts on Tour brought three of their seven artists for the following outreaches that addressed the National Core Arts Standards.

  • A student outreach performance of EmiSunshine and the Rain with a study guide on bluegrass music and theater etiquette for 925 fifth graders in Twin Falls and surrounding rural schools
  • A master class/lecture/performance by Collectif9 for 200 middle school and high school orchestra students
  • A performance/lecture/demo by the performers in International Guitar Night for 40 orchestra and band students at Twin Falls High School

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How do we discern the musical creators’ and performers’ expressive intent

Through the performances, masterclasses, and lecture demos along with the study guide materials on the particular mediums they would be watching, the students experienced how these artists chose to express music in a way that was personal to them. They learned that this could be done through dynamics, tempo, timber, articulation, and expressive qualities. Following the performance, the students reflected and responded on the essential question with classroom discussions and writing reflection pieces on their experiences – what they learned and how they felt.


At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

  • A sampling of 16 students wrote essays over the music and outreach topics of International Guitar Night
  • A sampling of 197 students wrote short essays over the music and outreach topics of EmiSunshine
  • The students in the Collectif9 master class were observed/interviewed by a CSI strings faculty after the class

The student work went into a rubric from 1-4, with 4 being the highest score. Their teachers evaluated their work. Students demonstrated an understanding of the materials presented with the following results:

  • The average on the International Guitar Night essays was 3.39
  • The average on the EmiSunshine essays was 3.29
  • The CSI strings faculty evaluated the students who attended the Collectif9 outreach. She noted the students’ understanding of the genres demonstrated, most notably Romanian and gypsy music, was stronger after their master class and they felt more confident in their ability to experiment in alternative performance techniques


“Before the concert, I learned that Bluegrass is a unique and hard style of music to learn. After the performance, I learned that Bluegrass includes lots of emotion, only string instruments, and is loud and quick. What I enjoyed most about EmiSunshine is how the singers and players used lots of true emotion.  My favorite song was Little Crow.  I liked it because, to me, the song had a message of ‘don’t give up – just keep on trying’.  What the song was saying, fly little crow, it meant to me don’t give up.” – Emilia


“I learned that Bluegrass is at a very difficult level and includes a lot of instruments. Bluegrass is quite loud, with a constant beat. My favorite song was when she yodeled, which was very delightful and fun to hear. I really enjoy Bluegrass and its spot in history. I would most definitely tell everyone about the amazing EmiSunshine and her valuable messages.  One of them struck home for me and it was bullying. I think bullying should stop but Emisunshine’s kindness should carry on.” – Kendsu


“Collectif9 demonstrated different styles of work including; classical, folk, and gypsy music from Romania.  They talked about taking music originally written for a large orchestra and re-composing it for nine players.  They also talked about how they would choose their music and how long it would take to rehearse. The students were well behaved and asked good questions.  As they were leaving they expressed how much they LOVED the show” – teacher


Arts Education is vital. The arts make you smarter, they make you more empathetic (which creates a better world), and they make your soul sing. Young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:
•4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
•3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
•4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
•3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
•4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
The student outreaches we do in conjunction with the Arts on Tour performing arts series are truly a joy. Because Twin Falls is geographically isolated from other metropolitan areas and because the median household income is 22% lower than the national average and 15% of the population lives in poverty, many of these kids will never get the chance to see a live performance like we can offer them with Arts on Tour and the caliber of artists who perform. We have found that the artists feel as strongly as we do about arts education and absolutely LOVE doing outreach programs. They believe in their art, and they believe in sharing it with students. This comes through in the programs – we can feel it, the artists can feel it, the teachers can feel it, and most importantly, the students can feel it. In addition to providing free outreach programs that help students and teachers address the National Core Arts Standards and think about the Essential Questions, we hope these outreaches plant a seed of the love for the arts.