One of the most important aspects of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to local students year-round. Programs such as Music in Our Schools, Strings in Our Schools, Guitars in Our Schools, and Youth Concerts provide immersive, hands-on experiences to a range of students from pre-K through grade six and expose them to music from the classical repertoire and beyond.
Music in Our Schools
Music in Our Schools is a series of three yearly chamber music concerts for students Pre-K through Grade 6 at 14 selected schools in Santa Fe, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, and Santa Clara Pueblo. The program reaches nearly 6,000 students and introduces them to traditional and contemporary classical, jazz, and world music. In keeping with the Festival’s commitment to world-class quality, the music is always performed by the finest artists.
Prior to each concert, music and classroom teachers attend a Festival-run workshop, where they receive training, lesson plans, and materials related to the performance. The teachers return to their schools and introduce the music to their students, helping them experience it through research-based and age-appropriate learning sequences.
When musicians arrive on concert day, the students are already familiar with the music: its sounds, characteristics, instruments, and composers. This pre-concert experience makes each school performance personal, safe, intellectually accessible, and profoundly meaningful.
Note: Curriculum for Music in Our Schools is always based on the nation’s most up-to-date music education standards, which are currently the National Core Music Standards, published by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards.
Dream Big Private Lesson Program
The Dream Big Private Lesson Program caters to low-income, underserved students in public middle and high schools. It offers weekly private lessons, taught at the schools by accomplished, professional musicians, on an instrument of each student’s choosing, including voice.
Public-school performing ensembles—such as band, choir, or string orchestra—require students to carry sophisticated parts with accurate and precise musical independence. Private lessons enable students to master their parts and perform with confidence and artistry, contributing to their ensemble as a valued team member. Dream Big students rise to the top of their performing groups and often play for honors ensembles at the regional and state level. Perhaps most importantly, Dream Big gives students one more caring, capable adult whom they can bond with and rely upon during vulnerable teenage years.
Dream Big fills a critical need to help students audition successfully for exceptional high school-level or college-level performing ensembles.
Young people hear and see great music performed all the time. Since they’re still at an early stage in their lives, Dream Big students are hopeful that musicianship will be a way for them to express themselves and contribute to their community as adults. Dream Big gives them that hope and enables them to achieve their dreams. Music transforms lives, schools, and communities.
Strings in Our Schools
Strings in Our Schools offers small-group violin instruction in four elementary schools in Santa Fe and Pecos, serving 60 students in grades 3–6. The free program provides students with violins and materials. Instruction is sequential, age-appropriate, standards-based, and individualized for unique learning needs.
Strings in Our Schools students go on to enroll in their middle-school orchestra programs, taking their musical study to ever-higher levels. Without Strings in Our Schools, these elementary-level students wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn the violin or be fully prepared to play in their middle school orchestras.
Hilary Schacht, an accomplished musician and longtime, highly successful violin teacher, leads Strings in Our Schools.
Guitars in Our Schools
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival created Guitars in Our Schools in 2016 to provide elementary school students with sequential instruction in classical guitar. The program is based at the Kha’p’o Community School at Santa Clara Pueblo and currently serves students in grades 3–6.
As an initiative providing direct instruction, Guitars in Our Schools allows students to learn multiple aspects of guitar playing through twice-weekly lessons. Students also perform in two concerts every school year at special Kha’p’o Community School events.
A mainstay since 1983, the Festival’s Youth Concerts are enduringly popular events that make classical music fun and accessible to children of all ages. Four weekly interactive concerts are held during the Festival’s summer season at St. Francis Auditorium in the New Mexico Museum of Art. The concerts feature Festival musicians engaging children with fascinating storytelling—about composers, instruments, music, and musical styles—as well as performing repertoire drawn directly from the Festival’s regular programming.
The concerts delight and inspire our youngest audiences while also building their knowledge and curiosity about the world of music. They draw individual children of all ages, plus their family members or guardians, as well as hundreds of students from public schools and summer camps.
The 2020 concerts will be held on July 20, July 27, August 3, and August 10.
Young Composers String Quartet Project
The Young Composers String Quartet Project, which celebrates its eighth year in 2020, allows two emerging composers to improve their craft via a unique combination of technical training, professional exposure, and artistic encouragement.
After being selected for the program, each participant is commissioned to write a new string quartet. During the summer, they spend a week in Santa Fe with the Festival’s Artistic Director, composer Marc Neikrug, who serves as mentor and advisor. The FLUX Quartet, a longtime Festival collaborator, acts as a sounding board for the composers, providing feedback from their point of view as performers. The program culminates with the FLUX Quartet giving the world premieres of the new works during a Festival concert at St. Francis Auditorium in the New Mexico Museum of Art. The program also gives composers the opportunity to meet with music publishers who share insights into how the music business works—from publishing to performances to recordings.
Although there are other programs for young composers around the country, the Festival’s stands out because it’s spearheaded by a composer. It also highlights the Festival’s core commitment to commissioning new music and championing living composers.
For more information about any of the above programs click here to contact Leanne DeVane, Director of Education and Outreach.