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As the Music Activity Partnership comes to an end, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Negaunee Music Institute looks back at one of the inspiring workshops of the 2014/15 season: preparing participating teachers for April’s CSO Youth Concert: A Revolution in French Music.

On Feb. 25, 2015, Chicago Public School teachers participating in the Negaunee Music Institute’s Music Activity Partnership program, a multi-year partnership with Chicago Public elementary schools, and CSO Docents gathered for a workshop that explored the repertoire and concepts of the April Youth Concert: A Revolution in French Music. During the first portion of this event, teachers and docents were introduced to the music and big ideas of this concert by Dr. Catherine Larsen, professor of education at DePaul University. The music was then more deeply explored through activities led by the MAP teaching artists. The afternoon was spent at the Art Institute Chicago, comparing works of art with the music on the concert, focusing on the events in French history and culture that influenced both the artists and composers.

Patrick Rand, Art teacher at Pickard Elementary School, has shared these thoughts about his experience at the workshop:

“The recent CSO workshop at Symphony Center helped us better understand and prepare our students to enjoy the upcoming concert: A Revolution in French Music. The “field trip” to the Art Institute further set the context of how we relate and interpret music and art.

What makes this and all of the CSO workshops important, is that they are carefully crafted to instruct non-music teachers on how to incorporate music into their classrooms in a succinct and thoughtful way. For example, excerpts of music from the concert were played and then we learned how to identify musical forms like rondos and how to demonstrate this for our students.

At the Art Institute, one piece we examined was a painting by Pablo Picasso that was compared to the music of Erik Satie. The concepts of “background” noise and design were applied to the work of art and the piece of music. Music as “furniture” was discussed and how “background music” was developed during this period.

An unplanned benefit of this workshop was the opportunity to meet with our fellow teachers. It is rare that we have time to discuss, learn, and plan for our students, in such an in-depth manner. Being a part of the CSO’s program has established a level of exchange that carries over into our daily teaching which allows us to quickly coordinate and support one another in how we teach and serve our students. We also now enjoy a sense of support from one another that was not present prior to this partnership.”

Sarah Alvarez, Director of Teacher Programs, Department of Museum Education at The Art Institute of Chicago, shared the following about preparing for our time together: “I selected an approach for the gallery walk that focused on comparison in order to get teachers really looking at the details of style and content in the works of art, and to get them thinking about how those details resonated with the dramatic shifts in style and content (in art, music, and literature) that took place as part of the turbulent social and political times leading up to and following the French Revolution.”

Stay tuned for Part 3, where Georgina Valverde — an artist and museum educator at The Art Institute of Chicago — and CSO Teaching Artist Avo Randruut discuss what happens when art and music are juxtaposed.