Visits to the Symphony Inspire Love of Music

It has been many, many years since Susan Worland, a violinist with the Santa Cruz County Symphony, attended elementary school. But last month, Susan took her violin and a friend from the Symphony and visited Hall District School to share the joy of classical music and her well-loved instrument with 160 excited children. The students crowded into the cafeteria of this southern most school in the Pajaro Valley to hear Susan talk about the many different types of instruments which make up a symphony and play some of the songs they would be hearing when they attended the upcoming Youth Concert.

symphony on stage with full audienceOn Monday and Tuesday of the last week in February, over 4000 students filled the seats at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and the Henry Mello Performing Arts Center to savor the extraordinary sounds of the symphony orchestra. Each one of their classes had a pre-concert orientation, just like the one that Susan gave at Hall District. That’s at least 133 classes of students listening to a professional musician speak lovingly of their craft—indisputable evidence that the musicians in our county’s symphony are passionate about passing on their love of music to the next generation. Because of the individual classroom visits, this event was more than musical for the children, it was personal. Many of the kids ran up after the concert to find “their” musician and see up close the shiny brass horns, the giant drums or the tiny triangle—which of course all of them were certain they could master immediately.

The classroom visits and youth concerts are part of the Santa Cruz County Symphony’s Youth Education Program, now in its 48th year, under the exciting direction of Maestro Daniel Stewart. The new musical director, whose own musical career was kindled when he attended a youth concert as a child, hopes to pass that inspiration to the children in his audiences.

A more recent addition to the Symphony’s education program is the Classical Music in the Classroom listening project that is a daily feature in 22 classrooms across the county—more than double the number from last year’s inaugural year. The project has been enthusiastically received by students, parents, and teachers, and is expected to grow both within schools and expand to encompass additional schools. Partnering with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, the goal is to maximize the number of “Classical Music Classrooms” throughout the county. Interested teachers and principals are invited to contact the Symphony office for further information and to learn how they may participate.

For more information on the Youth Education Programs, email