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Arts & Culture

Houston Symphony Launches Innovative Music Education Program

The Houston Symphony is bringing classical music instruction to the classroom through a new pilot program.

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Picture of Anthony Parce in classroom
Emily Nelson
Anthony Parce, one of four Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musicians.

About 30 fifth graders at Crespo Elementary are sitting in rows on a rainbow-colored rug and calling out answers about a piece of classical music they've just heard. Anthony Parce, one of the Houston Symphony's Community Embedded Musicians, is helping them make up a story to go along with the music. He and fellow musician David Connor just started a teaching residency at the school.

"And we're teaching a wide variety of skills, basically all the materials of music," Parce says. "With the end goal of having students able to make their own compositions and really think creatively, quantitatively, and qualitatively about music."

The bigger picture of the program is to use classical music training to elevate overall academic achievement.

"There's a lot of evidence that there's better performance of kids that are exposed to classical music," says Manolo Sánchez, Chairman and C.E.O. of BBVA Compass, the bank providing the funding.

Houston Symphony's Executive Director and CEO Mark Hanson smiles proudly when he tells people that this is the first time a program like this has been tried in the Houston area.

"This in-school residency program is proof that music – especially classical music – can speak to every child, he says. "No matter where that child is living, no matter where that child is going."

Each year, the initiative will serve over 400 third, fourth, and fifth-graders who are economically disadvantaged.

 

Picture of Anthony Parce in classroom
Emily Nelson
Anthony Parce, one of four Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musicians.

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