Nashville Symphony announces 'Music Education City'

The Nashville Symphony recently announced a bold new music education initiative, Music Education City, at a breakfast meeting of the Nashville Advisory Council, the Symphony’s community leadership task force. 

As part of this multifaceted four-year program, the Symphony will help mobilize local school systems, community leaders and area residents to increase music education opportunities in Nashville, as the Symphony continues to present and further develop education-focused concerts, instruction and development for young people and adults. 

“Music education has always been at the heart of the Nashville Symphony, but with the opening of Schermerhorn Symphony Center, we felt it was the right time to reevaluate those programs to coincide better with the needs of the Nashville community,” said Alan D. Valentine, president and CEO of the Nashville Symphony.  “The result, Music Education City, is an exciting initiative that we think may provide a model for other cities and orchestras around the country.”

Music Education City was developed by Mitchell Korn, one of the nation’s leading experts in music education, through dozens of interviews and focus groups with Nashville area educators, superintendents, students, parents, and education and community leaders.  His research led to a four-year strategic plan divided into six key components or “pillars,” which expands existing programs as well as implements new ones.  The six pillars of Music Education City are:  Advocacy, Concerts for Children, Applied Music Instruction, Family and Adult Education, Professional Development and Education on Tour.

“While conducting my research, I was devastated to find out that on average there is only one music teacher for every 700 students in the Nashville area,” said Korn.  “In a city that has such a rich and diverse music scene, it is critical that young people have the resources to learn music so that they can continue this wonderful musical tradition.  Nashville Symphony’s Music Education City will help provide those resources, as well as communicate the positive impact music education can have on the lives of our children.”

The Nashville Symphony will spearhead a new advocacy program aimed at both communicating the substantial benefits of music education and encouraging the public to help make music education a priority in the schools. 
A significant component of the advocacy program includes an ongoing advertising campaign with public service announcements and billboards.  The PSAs revealed today incorporate recognizable Nashville celebrities, such as Ben Folds, Mayor Purcell, Nashville Symphony Music Advisor Leonard Slatkin, Titans’ Linebacker David Thornton, Vice Mayor Howard Gentry and Predators’ coach Barry Trotz, among others.  A related billboard campaign will begin in May.

Another component of the advocacy program is a newly formed speakers’ bureau, made up of Symphony constituents who will address civic clubs, church groups, and other local organizations about the benefits of music education.  The Symphony will also tap Nashville celebrities as spokespeople, as well as community ambassadors, such as the Nashville Advisory Council. 

The Nashville Symphony will continue its long tradition of presenting concerts to children both inside and outside of the classroom.  Under Music Education City, these concerts will be closely tied to state curricular standards and provide local educators additional resources to their classroom efforts. The Nashville Symphony’s children’s concerts include:  Gaylord Entertainment Foundation’s Young People’s Concerts at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Ensembles in the Schools and Curb Open Dress Rehearsals.

The Nashville Symphony will offer more opportunities for individual and group music instruction to assure Middle Tennessee produces some of the finest musicians in the world.  One new initiative, the Young Musician Fellowship Program, will give aspiring young musicians the opportunity to receive continued mentorship from members of the Nashville Symphony.  In addition, the Symphony and visiting guest artists will provide master classes and sectionals for interested school music groups.

The Nashville Symphony will continue to offer its family programs, such as the Ann & Monroe Carell Family Trust Pied Piper concert series and AmSouth Classroom Classics, which gives middle and high school students and one parent free admission to select Nashville Symphony performances.  In addition, the Symphony will introduce exciting new programs such as Is it a Fiddle or a Violin?, a joint program with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that explores the stylistic differences between classical and country music.

Under Music Education City, there will also be more education opportunities for adults.  One example is OnStage at the Schermerhorn, introduced in January, which is a free informal discussion series with live music designed to give adult audiences the opportunity to discuss a variety of musical topics with Nashville Symphony musicians and faculty members from surrounding universities. 

The Nashville Symphony is also committed to providing its musicians and local educators with resources they need to enhance music instruction in the classroom. As part of this effort, the Symphony will provide professional development courses to performers, music educators and classroom teachers throughout the year.

Education on Tour is a new customizable offering, which combines family concerts, youth concerts, ensemble presentations and/or professional development opportunities into one or two-day events for community groups and organizations. This unique program brings the many educational and entertainment benefits of the Nashville Symphony into any Middle Tennessee community.

More information on these programs is available on the Nashville Symphony Web site at or by contacting the Nashville Symphony Education Department at 615.687.6398 or by e-mail at

Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

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