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Hampton City Schools and The Virginia Symphony Orchestra Collaborate through Virtual Music Education

This school year has presented many challenges for music educators throughout the Commonwealth. A teacher’s ability to bring students together to collaborate and perform has been limited. However, through a collaborative partnership with Hampton City Schools music educators and the professional musicians of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO), our students have been provided music enrichment and music-making opportunities. Now, more than ever, our students need to engage in a well-rounded education.

Middle and high school students and teachers in Hampton participated in virtual music masterclasses with Virginia Symphony Orchestra Musicians. “I am truly grateful that my students were given the opportunity to work with Virginia Symphony Orchestra musicians. Professional musicians from the symphony held multiple Zoom sessions for beginning and advanced players. They covered technical aspects of playing and working through music to address details that are specialized for those instruments. Students were excited to hear professionals of their own section and were smiling and volunteering to share,” shared Lisa Farrell, Eaton Middle School band director.

Students in elementary and secondary schools participated in the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s virtual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, life and legacy entitled “Songs of a Dreamer.” The powerful presentation was pre-recorded and made available at large via the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s YouTube Channel. The presentation served as an example of how the power of music can bring all people together.

All of Hampton schools had students who participated in the orchestra’s virtual performance of “The Orchestra Swings.” While this is usually a field trip for specific grade levels, this year the VSO provided the opportunity to all students, families, and schools. Teachers used the virtual concert to foster a formal concert experience and the opportunity to teach students that jazz has a distinctive rhythmic feel. It is from a musical era dominated by big band jazz, which is a style of dance that grew alongside the music. Students also learned about the elusive, but unmistakable, feeling that results when musicians are deeply tuned into each other and are playing in sync or “in the pocket.” Though swing is a characteristic of jazz, an orchestra can also swing. 

“We were so glad to be able to continue our partnership with Hampton City Schools teachers and students this year given all of the challenges presented by the pandemic. The VSO remained adaptable, and our musicians were flexible to ensure we could still effectively deliver our programs virtually. The teachers in Hampton have been incredibly innovative, and I look forward to incorporating the lessons learned and methods developed during this time to our future work together so that we can continue to provide valuable programs for students,” shared Rebekah Geiselman, Virginia Symphony Orchestra education and community engagement manager.

“The Virginia Symphony Orchestra has shined brightly as a valued community partner, helping our music educators to overcome some of the challenges they faced during this pandemic school year. Our shared educational mission and work have provided many enriching opportunities that our students would not have experienced without their unwavering dedication to Hampton City Schools,” shared Kelly Dee, Hampton City Schools fine arts teacher specialist for music education.