What's Happening at the Symphony

Changing lives through music on and off the stage

“Music expresses simple human truths. Music surrounds us. Music provides us with a respite, allowing us to truly experience the full spectrum of human emotion,” said Manager of Learning and Community Engagement Jesse Schiffman.

Jesse recently joined the Symphony team as the manager of learning and community engagement and it’s his deep commitment to the power of music that brought him here.

Attending a concert at Copley Symphony Hall is just a facet of our organization. To really change lives through music, our staff must reach outside of Copley Symphony Hall to bring music to San Diego County classrooms and community centers. We strive to create impact for all San Diegans, whether on stage or in a correctional center.

The learning and community engagement department is the organization’s arm that carries out this mission to change lives through music. It’s this outreach work that empowers us to provide enriching and transformative programming to our local schools and communities.

LCE focuses their work in three areas: music literacy, music wellness and social justice. Music literacy is learning about and appreciating music to enrich one’s life. Music wellness emphasizes the healing and transformative powers of music. Social justice uses music as a tool to unite our communities. These principles can often work together in a single program.

“Music and the performing arts are vital to the heartbeat and blood flow of a major city.  By supporting our mission we are creating a more rich, textured, and diverse city, living up to our moniker as America’s Finest City,” says Jesse.

Currently, LCE has two new music literacy initiatives: Music 101 and Symphony Story Time, targeted at students from pre-K to high school.

Music 101 is a program where Symphony musicians go to classrooms, grades 2-12, for showcase performances where students are introduced to the instrument families. This program currently focuses on three elementary schools and students receive two or three Symphony sessions.

Orchestra members currently attend classrooms at three local elementary schools: Alice Birney Elementary, Chollas Mead Elementary and Washington Elementary.

Symphony Story Time targets young children from pre-K to first grade. Orchestra members make music and tell stories to small groups of children.

Jesse emphasizes the importance of building relationships with these schools. This hyper-focused approach allows the symphony to plant the seed of music appreciation and watch it foster and grow with these students by returning for multiple sessions. LCE uses a targeted, holistic approach to its programming.

In addition to these two new initiatives, LCE orchestrates the annual Family Concert series and Young People’s Concerts program, which invites local students to experience a classical concert at the Jacobs Music Center.

“Because music is a window into the human experience, we learn about ourselves as we begin to learn to appreciate music,” Jesse said. “I have seen the transformative effects of music – we transcend the struggles of our daily lives to achieve something greater than ourselves.”

Music is the gateway to the human experience, but it also is deeply rooted in strengthening young minds.

Jesse explained: “By learning to appreciate music we are not only learning new information, we begin to generate and adopt critical thinking skills.  As one begins to learn and appreciate music, new neural pathways are developed, brain chemistry is changed, and scientific research has shown improvements in memory, learning, and auditory processing.”


This post was written by Marketing Content Editor Kelly Hillock for the San Diego Symphony.

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