Discover the Orchestra

"It's great to see all those kids leave with big smiles."

This season, the Friends Association is supporting the Discover the Orchestra curriculum, a collaboration between the Residentie Orkest and KOO (Arts Education organisation). But what exactly is Discover the Orchestra? Marieke Meliesie of our education department tells more about it.

"Discover the Orchestra is a three-year music program for groups 6 through 8 of the primary education in which the students discover and especially experience various aspects of the orchestra. In grade 6 they start by discovering instruments and getting to know musicians from the orchestra. They go on rehearsal visits and also sit among the musicians. In group 7 the students continue with practical music making. For example, they play along with the orchestra during play-along concerts and receive composition workshops where they create their own pieces. In grade 8, they wrap things up with a conducting project. For special education, you have a preparatory step for each subproject - an extra introductory lesson - and that's why they start as early as grade 5 so they have a little more time to let it all sink in."

Play-along concert in Amare

Musician in the classroom

The Discover the Orchestra learning line has existed since 2006 and is unique in the Netherlands. "At the moment about 1,300 pupils are participating, divided among eleven schools. In this set-up that is the maximum, we simply cannot place more students. There are also quite a few schools on the waiting list. We are considering expanding the play-along concert to include pieces that the entire hall can participate in, not just the children on stage. In the future, we also want to collaborate with the Nederlands Dans Theater and Amare. For a lot of children in The Hague and the surrounding area, it is a wonderful and special program and it is extremely nice that the Friends support this financially."

"It's incredibly nice that the Friends are supporting this financially!"

- Marieke Meliesie

Perhaps the best aspect of Discover the Orchestra is the active cultural participation. Students meet musicians, make music themselves, even lead musicians, and learn to compose. And while doing so, they learn to communicate, collaborate, and think critically and creatively. "We get feedback from parents that their child has grown so much and is much more confident since they were allowed to conduct the orchestra. Special education schools in particular say every time that it is incredibly valuable. You can also see the enthusiasm when students, for example, run from one musical instrument to the next in the Instrument Round section to try out or recognize musicians who have been at their school. Recently we were asked who the trombone teacher was because one of the students was so taken with the trombone that he wanted to take lessons. Our musicians also love it every time. When you see everyone leave with big smiles on their faces, it does something to you."

Conducting project 2023

Marieke herself finds the play-along concert one of the most enjoyable moments. "I've been involved in this project since the beginning and I stood on stage among the musicians to keep the children in check in all their enthusiasm and to make sure they played what was intended. Then suddenly when you hear a big orchestra playing live, it's so incredibly cool."

Play-along concert at the Dr. Anton Philips Hall (2008)
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