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Arts on Tour K-12 Outreach

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 2019-20 Season, Arts on Tour brought two of their five performing artists to K-12 students for the following outreaches that addressed the National Core Arts Standards.

  • A performance of Skerryvore with a study guide on Scotland, Scottish music, and theater etiquette for 860 fifth graders in Twin Falls and surrounding rural schools
  • A performance of We Shall Overcome with a study guide on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the music inspired by his words and deeds, and theater etiquette for 708 fifth graders in Twin Falls and surrounding rural schools
  • A masterclass with the Xavier show choir students who had learned and practiced four pieces, and sang on stage with the choir.

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.  They also learned that an artist’s music can be informed by social, cultural, or historical context.

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

  • A sampling of 153 students wrote essays over the music and outreach topics of Skerryvore
  • A sampling of 74 students wrote short essays over the music and outreach topics of We Shall Overcome

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 Skerryvore essays was 3.61
  • The average on the We Shall Overcome essays was 3.25



  • The Xavier vocal program faculty evaluated the students who spent four months working with the music of We Shall Overcome and then performing with the artists. He noted their understanding of gospel music was greatly enhanced by the outreach, and they cemented their performance skills in such areas as attire, composure, and theatrical skills while singing with the artists. He also noted how much the show increased their confidence in their abilities.


The following quotes come from 5th grade students who attended the Arts on Tour student outreaches:

  • I like how the performance inspired us to do great things
  • Thank you for showing me history in a way I liked learning about it, through music
  • I didn’t know Martin Luther King, Jr. listened to this kind of music. Now I can listen to it and be a champion of freedom too
  • I have never seen people play music right in front of me. It was great!
  • I did not know that people showed and expressed feelings through music but I like it
  • I learned that in a band, everyone has a different purpose
  • I thought jazz music was for old people but I am surprised that I love it


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.