By Eric Dundon
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra announced on April 14 that it is the recipient of $1 million in federal funding to support its music education programs, an appropriation made possible by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and signed by President Biden on March 15. The funding comes from the Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Innovation and Improvement Fund, which is part of the federal appropriations bill.
The SLSO will use these restricted funds to ensure ongoing access to music education resources for students, teachers, and schools throughout the St. Louis region and across the country. The funding will also help the SLSO expand its digital education platforms—an area of programming which has seen exponential growth in the past two years, engaging and connecting teachers, students, and families worldwide.
“We are grateful to Senator Roy Blunt for recognizing the impact of the SLSO’s music education resources for teachers and students, and for advocating on behalf of the SLSO’s continued work in this area. This award will support the SLSO’s music education programming, a cornerstone of the organization’s mission since 1921,” said Marie-Hélène Bernard, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra President and CEO.
A leader in music education, the SLSO reached students and teachers in 42 states and 15 countries in 2021, introducing six new virtual programs that connected with more than 65,000 students in 565 schools.
In addition to its regular in-school visits and education concert opportunities for students of all ages, the SLSO’s education programming has crossed into digital spaces with programs including:
Tiny Tunes, which incorporates social-emotional learning in a digital concert format designed for Pre-K students.
SLSO SoundLab introduces children ages 8-12 to music through a series of videos and activities that explore the intersection of music, science, and technology. Since its launch in December 2020, SLSO SoundLab has reached more than 60,000 students across the U.S.
Professional development opportunities connecting teachers to composers and artists.
Digital Concerts, created for students aged 5-12, presents 30-minute concerts available to stream. An educator version includes supplemental material for classrooms.
The orchestra’s Instrument Playground Online, presented by PNC Arts Alive and accessed through slso.org, features videos, photos, and activities that introduce audiences to the instruments of the orchestra and the musicians who play them.
Learning Lab activity galleries present at-home and in-class activities at no cost, designed around major ideas in orchestral music, including theme and variations, finding inspiration, and creating musical motifs for characters in literature and film.
“Music education is vital to learning success and has the power to help build connections between people, ideas, and the greater world,” Bernard continued. “We thank the Senator for sharing our vision to support teachers, students, and families.”
The appropriation was awarded through a Congressionally Directed Spending Request made by the SLSO to Blunt.
“Music education helps students develop skills that benefit them in all aspects of their lives and academic careers,” Blunt said. “The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s education programming brings together history, STEM education, art, creative writing, and so much more.”
The SLSO will work with the Department of Education to direct this federal support to key education initiatives in coming seasons, promoting access to music education for all.
The SLSO’s music education portfolio can be found at slso.org/education.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Manager.