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“In the Schools”, Explore Music!

Boise Philharmonic Association

The Boise Philharmonic Explore Music! education programs serve students from second grade all the way through high school, in Boise, West Ada, and Nampa school districts. These programs are designed to follow students from their first contact with our Musicians in the Classroom (MITC) program starting in second grade all the way through high school with Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO). Our goal is to have multiple points of contact with the students during their educational career. Thus we can build upon and advance their active listening skills taught during the previous encounter and continually strengthen their relationship with music and sound. Naturally this reinforces the importance of music and the arts as part of their lives and communities. We chose the “In the Schools” series because we wanted to remain a constant and active musical resource in the lives of children in the Treasure Valley who may or may not otherwise be exposed to music-making at a high level.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

Through our 2nd – 12th grade “In the Schools” series, each program worked with different essential questions.

Our essential questions build upon each other through each program. For each program, our essential questions offered were:

Musicians in the Classroom (2nd Grade): How do we discern the musical creators’ & performers’ expressive intent?
Anchor Standard #8 (Responding): Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

Children’s Concerts (3rd – 5th grade): How do disciplines, contexts, and daily life inform responding to music?
Anchor Standard #11 (Connecting): Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

Ensembles & conductors in the Schools (6th – 12th grade): How do musicians improve the quality of their performance and when is it ready to present?
Anchor Standard #5 (Performing): Develop and refine artistic work for presentation.
Anchor Standard #6 (Performing): Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (9th – 12th Grade): How do musicians make meaningful connections to creating, performing, and responding? How do other contexts & daily life inform creating & performing?
Anchor Standard #10 (Connecting): Synthesize & relate knowledge & personal experiences to make art
Anchor Standard #11 (Connecting): Relate artistic ideas & work with societal, cultural, & historical context to deepen understanding.

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

Students are asked to respond by drawing pictures or writing letters about how the experience changed their view of music. Here are some of the comments that were received:

– “I learned that you can make up pictures when music is playing.”
– “I learned that the violin has 4 strings and that the bow is made of horse hare.”
– “I learned that the tempo can sometimes be high and low (loud or soft).”
– “I would like to see you play in the orchestra. You are really good at playing the viola.”
– “I learned that the flute is higher than the obo.”
– “I learned that the clarinet goes high.”
– “I learned that music can tell a story even without words”


We like to request feedback from both educators and the students who attended the concerts and participated in classroom visits. We received hundreds of letters from students all-around the Treasure Valley. One student, Camden from Owyhee Elementary, wrote us the following:

“Thank you for playing for us today. It was cool because all the different instrument families were there, the brass family, the string family, the woodwind, and the percussion. My favorite one was the “Star Wars.” My friend and I were like that is the coolest thing ever! So Thank You!”

Students from Title One schools, such as Owyhee Elementary, might not be able to join the Philharmonic on a regular concert day but this gives students a chance to experience the Boise Philharmonic and to be inspired to play an instrument.


The Boise Philharmonic provides various types of education materials to help teachers prep and give feedback from our visits. These packets are a great tool for teachers to prepare their students with the necessary knowledge to be engaged in the different programs. We are constantly revising the programs and making them better.

From the feedback we did receive from teachers this past season, the reviews seemed to be very positive and were very happy how the musicians kept the students engaged. Some teachers did request that the scheduling happen earlier in the year so that they can better plan around their curriculum. The Philharmonic has already taken that into consideration and has begun taking reservations for the 2017-2018 season.