2008 MetLife Awardees

Madison Symphony Orchestra: HeartStrings

HeartStrings is an innovative program of the Madison Symphony Orchestra to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social problems of children and adults with special needs and disabilities. The goal is to bring music to their lives in significant and meaningful ways at locations that are familiar, comfortable, and accessible. Through ongoing partnerships with special-education, rehabilitation, and elderly care programs at south-central Wisconsin schools, state institutions, and community centers, HeartStrings serves a diverse population of varying needs, ages, and function levels, reaching close to 3,000 children and adults annually. Each of two professional string quartets from the MSO presents interactive performances that engage participants in music-making activities based on principles of the American Music Therapy Association. Visits lasting 45-60 minutes focus on rhythm, movement, purposeful listening, and active music-making. These sessions emphasize standard classical literature as well as American music and jazz that is highly tonal and rhythmic. Besides improving the quality of life for its beneficiaries, the program enriches the artistic lives of MSO musicians and serves as a resource for area music therapists by strengthening their work with these populations.   

Contact: Michelle Kaebisch, Education Director
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Toledo Symphony: Community Music Lessons at the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center

More than twelve years ago the Toledo Symphony was invited by Judge James Ray, a judicial hearing officer in the juvenile courts and a regular patron of the orchestra’s concerts, to join him in developing a unique program for youthful offenders with felony convictions. The result has been a partnership in which resident musicians of the Toledo Symphony join with local political and law-enforcement officers to engage the minds and hearts of incarcerated youth through instrument lessons and choir sessions at the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center. Students at this full-time, locked correctional institution work with Toledo Symphony musicians each week on an instrument of their choice and as members of the choir, students learn how to sing in an ensemble. Each participant earns one half-hour instrumental lesson or one hour-long choir session per week through good behavior. The program establishes mentorships between students and responsible and reliable adult musical instructors. Students work toward regular recitals to which they can invite family and friends and are invited to attend a daytime Young People’s Concert at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle Theater. Benefits to the students include improved behavior and increased self-esteem; new levels of self-confidence and self-reliance through the discipline of practicing an instrument; positive social interaction with peers and adults; and the attainment of positive problem-solving skills.

Contact: Joan Weiler, Ensembles and Special Projects
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