Pacific Symphony Launches Online Music & Arts Learning Center

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Pacific Symphony flute player Cindy Ellis holds a virtual music lesson / courtesy Pacific Symphony

By Allie Davis | Special to the NB Indy

In a time with children home from schools, parents forced to become part-time teachers and teachers forced to reimagine their curriculum, many are ready for a break.

Only, now it’s nearly summer. Parents won’t get a break for another three months (best case scenario), while teachers will spend their so-called “break” planning their online curriculum in case of the worst.

Luckily for Orange County parents and teachers, the Pacific Symphony is ready to ease the burden with their new At Home Music & Arts Learning Center.

Long before quarantine, the symphony had been strategizing how to prioritize their virtual education programming. Suddenly, with an unforeseen world-wide pandemic forcing children, teachers, and parents to adapt distance-learning methods, the community is fortunate they did.

“Hundreds of schools don’t have access to what we offer, and what we learn may unleash a very beneficial outcome to forward our distance learning objectives,” shares Pacific Symphony President and CEO John Forsyte. “This is a really useful moment to experiment and get feedback from the educational community and from parents who are at home with children.”

Not only is it the perfect time to excel distance learning with useful feedback, but it’s the perfect way to keep children busy this summer and give overworked parents and educators of Orange County a rest.

Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra “At Home Together” recital / courtesy of Pacific Symphony

The symphony’s Online Learning Center at www.PacificSymphony.org/OnlineLearning offers activities for people of all ages. Whether you’re are a kid stuck at home, a parent stuck entertaining your kids at home, an educator looking to supplement curriculum, or anyone bored with doing the same thing every day at home, there is something for everyone amidst four unique categories of engaging content:

  1. Pacific Symphony Home Learning: Activities for curious music students, short educational musical activities, STEAM education and further educational resources.
  2. Instrumental Instruction: Free, online violin instruction videos for the Pacific Symphony Santa Ana Strings program, accessible to the public.
  3. Lifelong Learning: Content for lifelong learners of all ages, including Pre-Concert Talks on SoundCloud, further educational resources from KUSC-FM and leading institutions such as Harvard, Berklee and more, and resources that offer free lessons for visual arts, dance and theater.
  4. Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles Online: Members and alumni of Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles (PSYE) record themselves and present their own series of Quarantine Clips.

Among the activities in the Home Learning Center is Unmasking Movie Magic. The lesson walks learners through how sound effects are made for films, and reduces advanced film techniques to something a six-year-old could understand. Not only is the lesson interesting and easy to understand, but it takes the education process one step further by igniting kids’ imaginations with a mini lesson that prompts children to create their own sound effects for their own made-up movie.

Pacific Symphony’s activities don’t stop at music. STEAM activities for parents and kids explore topics such as outer space, the science of sound, and more. Their navigation lesson inspires kids to travel in time and become explorers with creative activities that adapt the concepts of compasses and navigation to the modern era.

Beyond the many lessons and activity ideas for parents and teachers, the site offers lifelong learners free resources to take up that hobby they always promised themselves they would—especially during quarantine.

And for those who may not be interested in taking lessons but simply miss the experience of live concerts, there are pre-concert talks, online mixers with other music lovers, and free concerts to “attend” on KUSC 95.1 every Sunday from June 28 through August 9.

In an age of social media and iPhones, Pacific Symphony uses modern technology to transport our community back to a time when our minds and imaginations were the greatest avenues for entertainment.

As they provide Orange County with enriching virtual experiences to brighten and unite the semi-dimmed and distanced society, their Vice President of Education, Susan Miller Kotses, notes that “music brings so much beauty into our lives…[it] allows us to grow as human beings, [and] nourish our souls. At no time is this more critical than now.”

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