Frieda Belinfante Class Act Program
Pacific Symphony’s Frieda Belinfante Class Act program, initiated in 1993, is a comprehensive symphony education partnership between the Symphony and 30 elementary schools throughout Orange County. The program introduces over 16,000 students and their families to the musicians of Pacific Symphony and educates them about orchestral music. The participating students and families served reflect the wide ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the county.
Pacific Symphony’s Class Act program has served as a catalyst for change in school administrators’ and parents’ understanding about the benefits of music education. As a result of their participation in the program, a number of schools have developed partnerships and/or launched their own programs to provide access to comprehensive music instruction for their students, via afterschool orchestra programs and/or private music lessons. By advocating for and shifting attitudes about the value of music instruction, Pacific Symphony has contributed to the quality of education in its community.
Class Act features interactive music education activities for students, which consist of:
- Prelude Assemblies attended by the school’s entire student body and co-hosted by a professional storyteller and Pacific Symphony musician;
- Classroom Lessons taught by Pacific Symphony musicians for each grade level;
- Family Night Performances presented at each school by a Symphony chamber ensemble and attended by students and their families;
- Youth Concerts performances by the full Symphony orchestra at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for all students in grades 2-5, while K-1 students take part in a school site-based Interactive Musical Experience consisting of age-appropriate activities emphasizing participatory music-making;
- Bravo Assemblies conclude the students’ program year and highlight what they have learned during the program through creative expression in dance, music, theater, writing, or visual art presentations.
Class Act enhances student academic achievement and the curriculum aligns with education standards. The new Common Core requires students to develop creativity and divergent thinking skills – essential attributes for a successful future in many fields. In addition, parents, teachers and administrators are integrally involved in the program, and they receive what is for many of them, their first introduction to music education because of decades of declining music programs in California schools. Through Class Act, Pacific Symphony provides key decision makers with an introduction to the benefits of music education and a platform for discussing the importance of equitable access to music education in our schools and communities.
Lifelong learning is essential in the 21st century, and having access to music education at an early age can serve as a spark for children to become interested in playing and studying an instrument for a lifetime. In addition, schools struggle to keep students engaged through their high school years – California has a 78% high school graduation rate. Research suggests that schools with music programs have significantly higher graduation and attendance rates than those without music education.