Learning Through Music

Photo By Bennie Cottone

Music Education Programs

The Santa Cruz Symphony has been deeply committed to music education since the inception of its youth education program in 1966. Through an array of events and activities, the Symphony fulfills its vision and mission to educate and inspire present and future generations of symphonic music lovers.

The Arts Council of Santa Cruz County recently did research into the state of arts education in our county's schools. What they found was that over 50% of arts education programs in Santa Cruz County schools are music programs, and the top three providers of arts education are the schools, the Arts Council, and the Santa Cruz Symphony!

The Santa Cruz Symphony is a member of the League of American Orchestras and supports their
Statement of Common Cause: Orchestras Support In-School Music Education.

Mueller Scholarships

The Santa Cruz Symphony is proud to support aspiring young musicians learn their craft. Established through the foresight of the late Ruth Mueller, the Mueller Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance to needy and deserving students who play orchestral instruments. These scholarships directly subsidize private lessons and tuition for local youth performance ensembles or summer camperships.

Music students must be under the age of 18 and live in Santa Cruz County. Requests for scholarships for 2017 summer camperships will be accepted, as well as tuition for private lessons or performance ensembles during the 2017-18 season.

Applications for 2017-18 are currently closed. Students will be notified by April 15, 2017 of any awards.

“I want to play for my whole life and my main goal is to learn 'Flight of the Bumblebee'.” (11-year old recipient)
“My mom says playing the flute is also good for my breathing to help my asthma.” (12-year old recipient)
“I have been playing the violin for six years. I hope that someday I will be able to play in the Santa Cruz Symphony.” (15-year old recipient)

For more information on the Mueller Scholarship program, contact the Symphony office at (831) 462-0553, ext. 10 or email office@santacruzsymphony.org.

16 17 Mueller Scholars

Classical Music Classrooms

The Symphony's in-class Music Listening Program makes it possible for elementary school teachers to introduce classical music to their students on a daily basis. The program targets second through fifth graders and was piloted in 2012 with 10 teachers in four schools. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education is working with the Symphony to maximize the number of Classical Music Classrooms throughout the county. Currently, nearly 2000 students experience classical music daily in 16 of the County’s 31 elementary schools. Interested teachers and principals are invited to contact the Symphony office at (831) 462-0553 x10 to learn how they may participate.

Participating schools:

North County
Bay View Elementary, Santa Cruz
Bonny Doon Elementary School, Bonny Doon
Boulder Creek Elementary School, San Lorenzo Valley
Del Mar Elementary School, Live Oak
DeLaveaga Elementary School, Santa Cruz
Happy Valley Elementary School, Happy Valley
Mountain Elementary, Mountain
Pacific School, Davenport
Star Academy, County Office of Education
Westlake Elementary School, Santa Cruz
South County (all Pajaro Valley)
Alianza Charter School
Bradley Elementary School
Calabasas Elementary School
H. A. Hyde School
Hall District Elementary School
Landmark Elementary
Mintie White Elementary
Starlight Elementary School
Watsonville Charter School of the Arts

Interested teachers, principals and parents are invited to contact the Symphony office for further information and to learn how they may participate.

Classical Music in the Classroom SCS

Classroom Visits

Accompanied by trained volunteer docents, professional musicians from our orchestra visit 4th and 5th grade classrooms throughout the county. At these annual visits, students are introduced to instruments of the orchestra and the concept of a symphonic orchestra. They learn about the training and the vocational life of musicians and are prepared for the experience of a live classical concert. The visits are provided free to participating schools and usually occur in mid-February, two weeks prior to the annual Youth Concerts.

If you are interested in being a docent, please contact the Symphony office at (831) 462-0553 x10.

Erin School Visit

Youth Concerts

Every year the Symphony provides a set of free morning concerts for 4th and 5th graders at both the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and Watsonville's Mello Center for the Performing Arts. Members of the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony play alongside their professional counterparts, creating the largest philharmonic orchestra on the central coast of California. For these concerts, the Symphony also collaborates with other arts groups in the county. Past groups include Santa Cruz Ballet Theater, Kuumbwa Honors Jazz Band, Santa Cruz Shakespeare and the Cabrillo Youth Chorus. The event is presented in a highly accessible style, using elements of humor, movement, and audience participation. These concerts are attended by over 4,000 students and their teachers annually. (January 25 and 26, 2017)

The Family Concert is a slightly longer version of the Youth concert and is open to families of all ages. Immediately following the Family Concert, children are invited to come backstage to meet the musicians and try out their instruments in our "Orchestra Petting Zoo."

Our mission is to "inspire, educate and engage." We believe students who are learning to play orchestra instruments should have the chance to play with larger ensembles.

At the 2016 Youth Concerts, we invited students to play the famous tune, Ode To Joy, from the 4th movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony along with the Symphony. Here is a video showing members of El Sistema Santa Cruz, ages 8-11, playing with the Symphony. From the response after the concert, this was an experience these students will never forget!

White Square

Open Rehearsals

We invite the community to learn more about a professional symphony orchestra's rehearsal process to come and witness how our concerts come together. It is a fantastic learning experience to see Maestro Stewart and our musicians in action as they work to bring the best out of a musical score.

“The best thing about attending the rehearsals is hearing, seeing, and feeling the focus and cooperation of Maestro Stewart and the musicians as they perfect the repertoire I have studied in school.” (Cabrillo college student)

"One thing I’ve learned from this experience is when the conductor has a particular sound in mind and isn’t getting it, changing what he does with his hands is often significantly more effective than what he says.” (Home schooled student)

Our Open Rehearsals are from 7:30 - 10:00 pm at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. The 2017 schedule is:
Thursday, May 4
Friday, June 23

Admission is free. Donations are welcome.

Maestro Stewart SCS rehersal

Concert Previews with Maestro Daniel Stewart

The Santa Cruz Symphony League offers special previews for League members and season subscribers to meet the Maestro and soloist(s) as they discuss and perform excerpts from the upcoming concert.

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Pre-Concert Talks

Before every regular classical concert, patrons are invited to attend a free pre-concert talk, hosted by a local music professor- Don Adkins at the Civic Auditorium and Anatole Leikin at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts. These talks help further your understanding of the music before listening to the live performance and are central to the Symphony's mission of providing life-long education opportunities. Drs. Adkins and Leikin explain the unique attributes of the compositions, the composers and the historical context in which the music emerged. Pre-Concert talks start an hour before each concert, and are free for all ticket holders.

Dr. Don Adkins, DMA

Dr. Don Adkins, DMA

6:30 pm, Saturday of Concert Weekend at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

Dr. Adkins believes that music is one of the core expressions of our humanity. Don holds a DMA in orchestral conducting, a MM in composition and a BS in music education. He teaches music classes at Cabrillo College, conducts the Cabrillo College Orchestra, and often provides musical direction for musicals in the Santa Cruz area.

Chris Pratorius

Chris Pratorius

1pm, Sunday of Concert Weekend at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts

Chris Pratorius Gómez is a composer and pianist based in Santa Cruz, California. He has written three one-act operas, a harp concerto, two orchestra works and many pieces for solo voice, choir, chamber ensembles and electronic media that have been performed in San Francisco, Istanbul, New York, Guatemala and other spots around the world. Chris teaches theory, history, composition and piano at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at Cal State Monterey Bay. In addition, he is staff accompanist at The Studio, School of Classical Ballet in Soquel, CA and maintains a private studio.