Teaching Science Through Music

From October to December, second graders at Rock Lake Elementary School and Grand Ave Primary Learning Center are working with Orlando Philharmonic musicians, as well as professional teaching artists from Orlando Museum of Art, Maitland Museum of Art, and the Orlando Repertory Theatre as part of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s Symphonic Stories program. The residency uses music, theater, dance, and visual art to teach students about scientific concepts such as the seasons, weather, and the life cycles of plants and certain animals. The program is constantly hands-on, giving students the opportunity to create original vignettes based on their lessons. At the end of the program, students present what they’ve learned through a “Sharing Session,” presented for fellow students, parents, and teachers. Students work closely with teaching artists and musicians to create original works, with musicians providing the “soundtrack” for the student Sharing Session.

“It’s amazing to see how much students retain from the program,” said Sara Maddox, who teaches at Rock Lake. “Students are learning and remembering science concepts through the arts. It taps into their multiple intelligences, and helps them master concepts they otherwise would struggle with.”

Philharmonic Education Director Leia Barrett says Symphonic Stories was developed with the guidance of arts integration experts Dr. Mary Palmer and Dr. Susan Rosoff, co-authors of the textbook “Teaching Through the Arts: Writing” as a guide. The techniques outlined in the textbook was presented to teachers and, when the program is completed, it is the hope of the Philharmonic that Arts Integration will become a part of the curriculum for both schools.

“When students experience a diverse program like Symphonic Stories, every student receives a unique experience,” said Barrett. “Some students gain valuable memory devices for important core topics, some teachers are inspired to use music and the arts to teach concepts, and many children find a love for music they might never have known was there.”

Symphonic Stories is supported by a grant from Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation.