By Josh Yarden
If you haven’t yet heard of the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, it’s high time you were looped in to that strange and wonderful experience. Roughly 375 musicians of all skill and artistic levels rehearsed and performed together. Three generations of children and adults, including people who could barely read music, sitting side by side with amateur and professional musicians, music teachers, professors of music and members of the world renowned Philadelphia Orchestra.
We all came together to play broken instruments, in a composition by Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang, which he wrote for this one weekend event. Where did we find 375 broken instruments? Unfortunately, that was the easy part. They were chosen from among more than 1000 broken instruments owned by the School District of Philadelphia.
The Broken Orchestra had its world premier and its final performance on the same weekend, and that orchestra will never be assembled again… Not if you if you can help it. The cameras are gone, and the recording is over. But we still have work to do. We can all still ‘adopt an instrument‘ and fund the repairs needed to put it in the hands of an aspiring music student. Do it, and you will be handing a child the keys that open the door on a world of exploration, experimentation, and discovery.
Make a world of difference in someone’s life
Music education is not just about being in the band or the orchestra. That would surely be enough, but there is so much more bang for the buck! Young musicians show up, follow directions, learn to read music, recognize patters, play their part and perform in a creative community of learners. In doing so, they
attain all the transferable skills they need to engage in any social collaboration, become self-directed—and, learning to play a musical instrument has been demonstrated to enhance the brain functions needed for literacy and numeracy.
We hear a great deal about the importance of STEM education, emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Researchers have discovered that artistic engagement is crucial for the emotional and cognitive development that support academic success, leading them to update STEM to STEAM, to emphasize the importance of the Arts in a well-rounded education. Yet some schools and districts are cutting budgets for arts education, even now, when we can actually see brain scans that show how learning to play a musical instrument promotes the development of neural pathways in multiple areas of the brain.
Music education is the STEAM engine!
So, let’s power it up and get our children on the right track. Fixing and maintaining 1000 instruments will enable thousands of students to choose a creative path to social engagement and academic success. It is the only fitting Requiem for a Broken Orchestra.