By Katie Cassidy, assistant director of philanthropy
Some exciting news – A. Friends’ Foundation has awarded the Orlando Philharmonic $25,000 next season for our Music Mentors program, which includes virtual music lessons.
Executive Director Amy Hubbard asked how they could have the greatest impact on our programming and how they could help expand the virtual music lessons program to include additional counties. The A. Friends’ Foundation $25,000 investment will expand the Music Mentors program, which currently exists primarily in Orange County, into Seminole and Osceola counties. In addition, the funding allows the Orlando Philharmonic to hire Debbie Fahmie and Dr. Carolyn Hopp to examine our current metrics and create a brand new evaluation system.
They were particularly impressed with our current metrics. Each year, 7th through 12th grade Florida orchestra students are given the opportunity to audition for three grade-level All-County and All-State orchestras; 7th-8th, 9-10th and the 11th-12th Orchestras. There are many reasons a student may not be successful auditioning for this program or may not audition at all ranging from lack of access to an instrument, necessity to work after school, or the financial ability to afford additional lessons. In order to provide greater equity to Orange County students, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra implemented the Music Mentors (virtual music lesson) program.
In the two years since this program has been established, we have seen both quantitative and qualitative empirical data that the students who received these lessons grew in their musicianship and ability. In measuring the growth of students who were accepted to the audition-only All State, All County, and Solo & Ensemble Orchestra & Band, we saw an important growth. In our first year of the program, zero students from Orange County Title I schools auditioned for the All County Orchestra & Band. In the second year, 12 students auditioned with eight being accepted in the All County Orchestra & Band.
As a donor, thank you for your support of education programs in Central Florida and beyond. This is a very moving and generous representation of their foundation’s belief in the importance of our work!