In the fall of 2015, the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra launched two exciting new partnership programs for Chicago Public Schools: an in-school residency program and a teacher professional development community. On this page, you will find more information about the first year of the residency program at Pickard Elementary School. To learn more about the residency program on Sounds & Stories, please click here.

In September 2015, a planning team consisting of staff and a teaching artist from the Negaunee Music Institute, two fourth grade classroom teachers and a visual art teacher from Pickard Elementary gathered to begin developing a curriculum for the first year of Pickard’s involvement in the residency program, formerly named CSO-Ignite. The curriculum was designed to use musical instruction to address student learning needs in language arts, while making strong connections with the CSO’s School Concert theme of “Celebrations.”

The primary goal of instruction was to teach fundamentals of music to students, while building upon academic concepts that students would explore in a previous unit–Narrative Storytelling. Instruction would also highlight Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to the play, which the students would see performed in February at Orchestra Hall.

Over the course of approximately sixteen weeks, the residency featured ten lessons by teaching artists, several in-school performances by CSO and Civic chamber ensembles, a field trip to Orchestra Hall to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and an “informance,” a showcase of student work for fellow classmates and their families. The ten in-school visits were structured as a three-part arch: weeks one through four were dedicated solely to music fundamentals, with each lesson exploring tempo, dynamics, melody, and emotion in Mendelssohn’s music; weeks five through seven were devoted to emphasizing the narrative capacity of orchestral music through the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and further exploration of Mendelssohn’s work, also including an age-appropriate retelling of the play and contextual information about Shakespeare; weeks eight through ten focused on preparation for the final project, which would be a modern retelling of the play with short rhythmic compositions representing characters, settings, and major plot movements. The final project was performed in February for families and community members.

 “I liked doing the play because it was fun to make our own characters and write music about them. I wish we could do it again.” – 4th Grade student, Pickard Elementary

In addition to classroom visits by teaching artists, Pickard experienced several live music performances by CSO and Civic Ensembles and also took a trip to Orchestra Hall to see a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with special guests from Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Teacher and Student Testimonials

“They loved the [CSO] concert. They recognized the repertoire and knew the story, so they were able to connect to the concert in a meaningful way.” – 4th Grade Teacher, Pickard Elementary

“Mr. Mike [the CSO’s teaching artist] taught us dynamics today. He showed us how to play the ocean drum so it sounds quiet like it’s raining or loud like a thunderstorm.” – 4th Grade Student, Pickard Elementary

“After the students performed their play, they kept asking ‘when can we perform it again?’ They reflected after the performance and wanted to improve some of the details with another show.” – 4th Grade Teacher, Pickard Elementary