The San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures In Music (AIM) Program Celebrates 25 Years Of Music Education In San Francisco’s Public Schools

Program provides curriculum-based music education to every single elementary school student in grades 1-5 in the San Francisco Unified School District free of charge

In 2013 the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) celebrates the 25th anniversary of Adventures in Music (AIM), the longest running and most comprehensive music education program of its kind among American Orchestras in public schools. AIM is an interdisciplinary music education program that integrates live music performances and experiences with everyday classroom lessons in language arts, social studies, science and other subjects. AIM is the result of a unique partnership between the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), and offers music education to every single San Francisco public elementary school student in grades 1 through 5, over 24,000 students each year. The San Francisco Symphony provides AIM free of charge to all schools, teachers and students.

Adventures in Music is comprised of multiple components that give elementary school children a well-rounded musical education experience that explores a variety of genres and topics. The AIM program also provides training, resources and materials for teachers to incorporate music into their lesson plans, regardless of the teacher’s own background in music. Key aspects of the AIM program include:

· Each year, the SFS develops a classroom curriculum that links musical experiences to disciplines such as language arts, science, geography, history, or social studies.

· SFUSD teachers are provided professional development workshops to help them integrate music into their everyday classroom lessons.

· Teachers receive classroom materials such as books, compact discs, simple instruments and other resources to assist them in implementing the program.

· Each student receives his/her own AIM student journal, which is tied to the ensemble’s performances and classroom curriculum and resources.

· The curriculum provided to the teachers prepares each student to experience four in-school musical presentations by specially-trained AIM ensembles made up of professional musicians from throughout the Bay Area.

· These AIM Ensembles present more than 1,100 in-school performances each school year.

· The music reflects the diversity of the San Francisco community by representing a variety of musical genres such as jazz, Latin, Western classical, traditional Chinese music, and other styles.

· All AIM students visit Davies Symphony Hall each year for a private concert by the San Francisco Symphony, which is specially-designed for them and incorporates ideas and subjects that students have been learning in their classrooms.

The National Association for Music Education has collected a range of studies and statistics that point to music education contributing to children’s success in both academic environments and social interactions, as well as in expanding their understanding of the world and cultures around them. An evaluation of AIM documenting the impact of the program on the students and teachers of the SFUSD reported:

· 87% of teachers and 86% of principals found their students more interested in music and the arts because of AIM.

· 86% of principals reported that AIM has helped increase student learning and achievement in other subject areas.

· 78% of principals reported that students are more accepting of cultures other than their own because of AIM. The report also confirmed that the SFS is perceived as an active member of its community, with a keen understanding of issues relating to children, learning, and community building.

SFUSD officials confirmed that the AIM program has led to an increase in students enrolling in instrumental music programs in middle and high school, which subsequently led to the SFS expanding its Instrument Training and Support program to serve every instrumental music student in SFUSD’s middle and high schools, grades 6-12.

Founded in 1988, the AIM program is a cornerstone to the San Francisco Symphony’s commitment to music education, which has been a part of its mission since its founding in 1911 when the second performance ever presented was a concert for children. That commitment continues today with a variety of programs that are designed for all age groups, including Music for Families concerts for parents and children, the award-winning online music education resource for children, SFSkids.org, the internationally-renowned San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Instrument Training and Support program for middle and high school music students, and Community of Music Makers workshops for adult amateur singers and instrumentalists. Praising the SFS’s education programs, the Wall Street Journal states, “The San Francisco Symphony serves as the industry standard,” while The New York Times refers to the SFS as “a music education powerhouse.”

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