Yvonne Caruthers  

Symphonic Education Programs

Yvonne Caruthers
April 10, 2019

Editor's Abstract (Click to Hide)

Yvonne Caruthers, cellist with the National Symphony, has been involved with her orchestra's Education Department for many years. She also designs programs for the Smithsonian's education branch, and has many exciting ideas to share about how orchestra musicians can develop and enjoy educational and outreach programs.

In her introductory article, Yvonne presents a brief history of how educational services and orchestral residencies in under-served communities were introduced to major orchestras. She goes on to describe some of her own and her colleagues' first experiences with an orchestra residency in Alaska - they were hit by some pretty tough questions from the 5th & 6th graders! National Symphony musicians have been through several residencies in the past few years, and Yvonne offers her insights on how to make them rewarding for both the students and the orchestra players.

Yvonne has been interviewing and soliciting articles from colleagues around North America regarding orchestral education and outreach programs, and has a wonderful collection of articles in the pipeline. Please contact us if you'd like to share your own orchestra's experiences, or if you have any questions about outreach programs.

- Ann Drinan

All orchestras have education departments. All orchestras engage in outreach programs. I’ve read about those “education departments” and “outreach programs” in the usual places: ASOL’s Symphony magazine, the Int’l Musician, the ICSOM newsletter, etc. I’ve watched my own orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington DC), set up several good programs that have evolved significantly in the last decade. I have colleagues in orchestras across the country who have told me stories about what they’ve gone through to set up programs in their communities. But until now there has not been a good vehicle for orchestras or musicians to share what works and what doesn’t in their outreach and education programs. polyphonic.org is about to change that.

In this area of polyphonic, you’ll be able to go behind the scenes and find out what makes a good education program. You’ll also find out how musicians and administrators view those programs as they share what they’ve learned over the years. You’ll read about efforts from organizations both large and small. Here you’ll find programs that were built from the ground up as well as those that came from the top down. If you need help designing your own program, this is the place to start. If you want to get in touch with one of the leaders in this field, this is the place to look. Check out the photos, read the fine print, follow the links—we think is the best source on the Internet for designing, communicating, and learning about all things musical/educational.

And please, let us know what you think. Hopefully what you’ll read here will inspire you to send us a success story of your own, but if not, tell us what would be helpful to you so that we can serve you even better.


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