April 7, 2021

Orchestra Adapts Programs to Virtual Visits for Schools

MEETING MUSICIANS ONLINE: Basia Danilow, concertmaster of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, gives students in the PSO BRAVO! program a close-up look at her violin.

During this pandemic year, Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has pivoted its PSO BRAVO! education programs to offer a range of virtual opportunities to area teachers, students, young musicians, and the online community. Virtual school musician visits and online instrument demonstrations are geared to engage the younger set, while discussions of Bach and Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) master classes are of value to older student musicians.

The orchestra is planning on up to 50 “Meet a Musician” visits. Students have the opportunity to talk with an orchestra musician face-to-face online, gain a close-up look at the instrument(s), and listen to live music demonstrations. Over 20 schools are participating, including elementary schools in the Princeton, Hopewell, and South Brunswick school districts.

Johnson Park Elementary vocal arts teacher Erin Ketterer said of the program, “The Zoom BRAVO! visits have been absolutely amazing. Our students have been just as captivated as they were during our past live assemblies. These virtual visits have meant so much to me as a music educator, because I think it shows the resiliency and power of music and musicians.”

As a supplement to the school Zoom visits and an enrichment resource for home-school families and the broader community, the PSO is unveiling a new “Instruments of the Orchestra” section in the Education area of its website. The section features pages dedicated to specific instruments, complete with informative musician videos and audio playlists to hear how each instrument contributes to the rich sound of the orchestra.

Older student musicians can check out the PSO BRAVO! Bach’s Musical Offering Project, a four-episode exploration of Bach’s work complete with video introduction, also housed on the orchestra’s website. Nell Flanders, the PSO’s assistant conductor, serves as instructional guide and PSO musicians play Bach’s music.

Through PSO BRAVO!, Flanders and PSO musicians also work with students at the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey. Flanders leads classes on Bach and other topics, and PSO musicians are facilitating a series of YOCJ masterclasses on April 20 at 7pm. While the audition period is over, anyone can watch and learn for free. For information, visit yocj.org.