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Explore Music!

Boise Philharmonic Association

Boise Philharmonic completed the 2019/20 Explore Music! educational outreach program, which served approximately 20,000 students. Some programs were cut short due to the pandemic, though all programs were completed at least partially and some fully.

Eight Children’s Concerts were held in February at the Morrison and Brandt Centers. Overall, 12,360 third, fourth, and fifth grade students attended from 148 schools and home-school groups. All concerts were provided free to attendees. The concert theme was “Happy Birthday Beethoven!”

Boise Phil’s “Musicians In The Classroom” musicians visited second grade classrooms across the region, which served approximately 2125 students from 26 schools.

The Verde Percussion Ensemble held free concerts for students at Capitol High School and NNU that served a total of 3012 students. The Phils’ String Quartet visited Eagle High School in February. Other visits were canceled due to school closures. Maestros Eric Garcia and Jennifer Drake visited many high school and junior high orchestra programs across the Treasure Valley throughout the school year to work with the ensembles on technique and performance preparation, serving approximately 900 students.

Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra included 104 talented high school musicians who rehearsed weekly throughout the year, held two public concerts, and were mentored by our professional orchestra musicians.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

When is a performance ready to present? and others

For younger grades, MITC visits and Children’s Concerts took the students on a musical journey. Along the way, the musicians and conductor lead the students through listening exercises through which they learned how composers tell stories through their music. The performers are the interpreters of the musical language. They learned how different instruments could convey different emotions depending upon now notes are played and arranged.

For older grades, as the students are now musicians, students gained first-hand knowledge from Boise Phil musicians and conductors about how to improve their performance, when a performance is ready to present, how daily life informs creating and performing, and how musicians can make meaningful connections to creating, performing and responding. Conductor in the Classroom, Ensemble visits, and Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra address these essential questions through the training provided and the access to the Phil’s professional artists. In particular, the Boise Phil Youth Orchestra had most of the school year to work with Conductor Jennifer Drake and be mentored by their musician counterparts in our professional orchestra. These experiences provide invaluable lessons to a budding musician’s confidence and knowledge base.

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

When is a performance ready to present?

Lydia Ring, BPYO: I’m going into my freshman year of college at ISU. I primarily play the viola. I was in the BPYO for 2 awesome years. I think a performance is ready to present on the day of the performance. No piece and no orchestra will ever be flawless–maybe if we had infinite time, a performance could be perfected, but the concert/event/recital is always scheduled long before that point. I think it’s important to just be as ready as possible with the time available, to aim for perfection while recognizing its impossibility. BPYO taught me this pretty much every Monday. From the first rehearsal, when I was completely underprepared in every possible way, to several backstage moments of panic wondering if we were “ready” to perform. The thing is, there are always some mistakes, some parts that could be refined; at the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter. We were ready enough when it counted.


Archie Flores, BPYO: I’ll be a freshman this year at BSU with a major in music. I had the privilege of playing trombone with BPYO for 2 years. My answer to this from my training with BPYO is when you get really lost in the music and not realize how challenging the music may be. I learned form BPYO that in an ensemble everyone matters and knowing your part backwards and forwards is most effective. I have enjoyed working with kids my age who love music just as much as I do and working with the musicians of the Boise Philharmonic orchestra.


Lindsay Bohl, Associate Principal Viola, Boise Philharmonic Orchestra:

Every visit I do to 2nd grade classrooms is so valuable for them and me. The kids are totally engaged and thrilled to have a musician and concert in their own classroom. Every time I play the first note, the whole room makes an audible “ooh!” That’s probably my favorite moment, to hear the collective awe of a sound they’ve never heard before. To be that close to the instrument making the sound is thrilling to the kids. At the end, the kids always ask for me to play another piece. They often want to tell me what instruments they play or want to play in 5th grade.

Dan Howard, Director of Operations & Education:

For the first time, the Children’s Concerts had audiences attending from Boise School District’s STEP program. STEP is the “Student Transition Education Program” serving kids with special needs, aged from middle school through 21, teaching them life skills. We were very excited to have this group attend for the first time. They never had the opportunity previously. For most if not all, the Children’s Concert was the first time they’ve seen an orchestra, and they were transfixed! They were in awe of Eric Garcia. They were mesmerized by the music and the visuals on the screen. In total, 56 members of STEP attended the concerts along with 15 chaperones. To be included with all of the other children in the audience — they were just in love.


The Boise Phil’s impact isn’t only measured by the notes we play, it is also measured by the faces we see. We need to see as many faces as possible, it helps the musicians perform their best and it helps the listener have a deeper connection to what it is they are hearing. We love that we can share our music education programs with students from across the Treasure Valley and beyond.

Our intention is that by starting with younger grades with the Musicians In The Classroom program, that we will have helped plant the seed for them to get excited about an instrument, start to learn how to play in upper elementary, and then continue with their musical journey along into junior high and high school. Our Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestras are ready for them when they are! One of the teachers said it best. From an evaluation form from a 2nd grade teacher at an elementary school in Boise: She [the musician] did a wonderful job of engaging my students! These lessons not only enrich our music curriculum, but motivate them towards playing an instrument. Picturing the story while listening and identifying events by the music and how it is being played strengthens listening comprehension skills.

Sometimes, our musician and conductor visits have secondary results that can benefit the students and teachers alike. From an evaluation form from a junior high school orchestra teacher after a Conductor in the Classroom visit: Jen was so quick to adjust to what students needed to correct an issue. She has such high standards and has so many creative tricks to help everyone meet those expectations. I took strategic notes to try with my next class. Her visit was so helpful!