CT Orchestras Launch Statewide Initiative Supporting Overburdened Music Educators

Wednesday • May 12, 2021

Connecticut orchestras are coming together to help local music teachers. In response to low enrollment numbers due to the pandemic, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Stamford Symphony Orchestra, and Waterbury Symphony Orchestra rolled out a series of recorded, live, and online services to encourage students to join their school’s instrumental ensembles. These services are being provided entirely for free to students and teachers.

New Haven Symphony Orchestra Education Director Caitlin Daly-Gonzales says, “As schools went virtual last spring, many students lost connection to their school’s music departments. Our teacher network shared that they were seeing a drop in the number of students that were signing up for music classes and instrument lessons as compared to previous years. Most teachers couldn’t use their normal recruiting methods like in-person instrument demonstrations and open houses for parents and students. This felt like a problem that orchestras could help solve and it was wonderful to see orchestras across Connecticut orchestras quickly jump into action.”

Now available online, “Pick Your Instrument CT” is a resource and learning hub offering the following free resources for students and teachers:

  • Tutorial videos made by orchestra musicians for students to see and hear each instrument
  • Webinars and live, virtual “open houses” where students and parents can interact with orchestra musicians, ask questions, and learn about different instruments. The first set of these events will be on Saturday, May 22 at 10am and Wednesday, May 26 at 7pm. Those interested in participating can register for free on the site.
  • An online instrument selection toolkit, with interactive videos and quizzes to align students with instruments that they are drawn to. (Available in English and Spanish)
  • “For Kids by Kids”: An online portal where students can submit their own videos about playing various instruments

Pick Your Instrument CT is available at TinyUrl.com/PickYourInstrument.

Natalie Jimenez-Lara, an instrumental music teacher at Ross Woodward Classical Studies Magnet School in New Haven, says, “The vast majority of fulfillment that a young instrumentalist experiences throughout their early music education lies in their social interactions among peers. Imagine recruiting for a team sport in which a portion of the team would be participating virtually while the other team members are physically present. Such a situation would not only severely impact the individual development of each teammate, but would also impede their ability to practice collaboration in a real-life group setting. We recruit in the spring to prepare for the fall and the byproduct of this less than ideal situation has been low enrollment that has compounded for two years. We appreciate the efforts from all the orchestras around Connecticut for coming together to help us build up enrollment and get young instrumentalists excited to develop their musicianship in our programs again.”

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