Our Music Education School Programs

The programs offered by the FSO provide a progression of music education for our students from pre-school following them through their entire academic journey to their senior year of high school. They are designed to excite students for a lifetime of music enriched learning.

Studies show that music not only strengthens academic ability in core subjects such as math and science, but also has a powerful positive influence on the development of an individual child’s self-esteem, confidence, self-discipline and compassion.

Longitudinal studies of 25,000 students have shown that students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, lower drop-out rates and improved attitudes about community service. These benefits are evident regardless of socioeconomic status.

Children motivated by the arts develop attention skills and strategies for memory retrieval that apply to core academic subject areas.

Moreover, students with four years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with one-half year or less.*Ten Top Reasons to Support the Arts (from Arts Watch) posted by Randy Cohen on April 20, 2011.

The following are each grade level curriculum in the Music Education Engagement Program offered by the Firelands Symphony Orchestra.


  • Preschool & Kindergarten
  • Grades 1 through 4
  • Grades 5 through 12


Pee-Wee Performers for 3 year-old preschoolers
For our very youngest audience we would like to share a program called “Pee-Wee Performers”. In this program we introduce 3 year-old preschoolers to the concept of recognizing the sounds that surround them. We begin with each student hearing sounds found in nature, such as birds, frogs, ducks, bugs and wind moving through the trees. The students then create these sounds by trying out instruments provided and conclude the program by working together and incorporating a specific animal sound while a story is read. The students become the performers of their sound!

Tunes for Tots for 4 year-old preschoolers
For our four year-old audience, we visit preschool classrooms with “Tunes for Tots,” introducing them to the concept of an orchestra and specifically the FSO. With the Jan Brett book, “Berlioz the Bear,” we will spend time introducing students and engaging them in conversation about musicians and venues for performances. The students are then treated to a live concert performed right there in their classroom, followed by a small reception, with real snacks.


Little Music Literature for beginning readers
For our beginning readers, the FSO offers a program called “Little Music Literature.” In this program we introduce Kindergarteners to three books with three different musical messages, helping to promote an appreciation and understanding of reading as well as music.

In our first selection, “Clickety Clack,” by Rob and Amy Spence, uses rhythmic prose to convey the sound of a train riding on the rails with a steady pulse of rising excitement. Our FSO musician, Jody Chaffee, adds percussion enhancements as this story is read, showing students the possibility of finding music in the rhythm of words.

We continue with “Zin, Zin, Zin, a Violin,” by Lloyd moss. This literary gets the students moving as we create and learn about the instruments of the orchestra and the names of different ensembles, from solo to chamber group of ten. Students are called upon to dance as we create our various size ensembles, in the end incorporating the whole class in the energetic dance party!

In our final literary work, students learn about the many facets of performing live music. “Berlioz, the Bear” by Jan Brett, provides the story of a group of musician bears and their journey full of tribulations in an exquisitely illustrated book, for which she is known. This journey ends with students listening to a custom tailored concert demonstrating 6 orchestral instruments played live by the FSO musician.

We enjoy getting our younger audiences excited about so many aspects of music with these first three programs. Setting the foundation of endless musical possibilities is a great way to start our musical education journey with students. With funds from this grant and availability of materials, we will donate three books to each of the schools’ libraries for the students’ further enjoyment.

First Grade

Symphony on the Shelf for first grade students
For our First Grade students, we plan to present the program “Symphony on the Shelf.” A certified music teacher and principal musician with the FSO, Jody Chaffee, will return to the classrooms of each school for a third year, bringing the book “Peter and the Wolf,” with an accompanying CD.

She will introduce the story and talk about the composer/author, teach students about orchestral music and discuss how various instruments are used to animate the story. Jody will then perform excerpts on each of the seven different instruments introduced in the book. Students will have the opportunity to see and hear the instruments live and up close.

In addition to donating a new book/CD each year, Jody will show the new first grade students the process of reading the music and how they can translate that into actually playing the keyboard themselves, using the instrument previously donated to the school. This is an instrument on which each child will find some level of success and the experience encourages them toward expanding their music education.

Second Grade

Science of the Symphony for second grade students
Our “Science of the Symphony” program has had great success with 2nd grade classes. This program reinforces the concept of music’s ability to enhance learning in core subjects such as science. An
FSO musician will demonstrate the construction and sound production of musical instruments.

Students will learn how to create string instruments out of a box and rubber bands, create various pitches from bottles with different amounts of water in them, create tuned water glasses like keyboard percussion instruments, and each will get to make a plastic shaker to take home.

The FSO musician will also perform science experiments showing the effects of musical vibration on real objects. The students will, in effect, have a live demonstration of the science behind vibration, creating sound, how pitch changes based on size, material and tension, and the concept of pitch variation due to physical dimensions.

Third Grade

Drumming with Dylan for third grade students
Our Third Grade music program called “Drumming with Dylan” involves bringing an accomplished percussionist from the FSO, Dylan Moffitt, to visit classes to introduce the children to African Drumming Circles.

Dylan will bring a variety of percussion instruments for the students’ use and students will participate in a hands-on drumming circle, led by Moffitt. Moffitt will teach the students the elements of basic rhythms, call and response, echo patterns and musical dynamics.

Students will have the unique opportunity to actually create the music themselves with the leadership skills of a professional percussionist. In addition, students are shown how to use rhythm and repetition to assist in the learning of all core subject material in their curriculum.

Fourth Grade

A World Orchestra You Can Build for fourth grade students
To build on the programming introduced in “A World Orchestra You Can Build”, we would like to present “Woodson’s World Orchestra” to our 4th grade students. Students will benefit from the program’s interdisciplinary method by learning about cultural diversity through its similarities and differences, discovering the social, cultural and historical roles of music and rhythm. It will reinforce working cooperatively and communicating with others as well as reinforce academic concepts through hands-on music participation.

Grade 5 through 12

Muscles for Musicians for fifth to twelfth grade students
With schools struggling to keep enough funding for the arts, ensemble programs suffer from extremely high teacher/student ratios. The teachers simply do not have enough opportunities for essential one-on-one service for beginning musicians. For students enrolled in their school ensembles in grades 5 through 12, we will continue our “Muscles for Musicians” program.

FSO musicians will attend the regularly scheduled band or orchestra class during the school day and work individually with student musicians to further their ability and understanding on their own instrument helping to prepare them for upcoming competitions. Sections of musicians will also have the opportunity to be coached as a group, learning how to work in small groups for a common goal, as well as serving as a part of a larger group for the entire ensemble.

The more success students have in performing music, the more they will experience the benefits music has to offer. This program includes 70 tutoring sessions in Erie County schools. This program has received glowing reviews and Jody has been contacted by each of the participating band directors from last year, anxious for her services to return.