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Live Oak Public Libraries
Innovation SummaryClassical music, children and collections in an exciting format that enoucarges interactive, hands-on exploration. A culturally diverse, multigenerational audience discovers the joy live music and the ability to continue learning through the library's collection.
Savannah lost its professional symphony orchestra over 8 years ago. Schools are phasing out music education due to budget cuts. An entire generation of children is at risk of growing up without access to live classical music. And when opportunities to hear live classical music are presented, it is rarely geard to children. Also the setting and programs are not conducive to encouraging youth attendance This is especially true of inner-city children who also have additional barriers due to their socio-economic status, including such barriers as adult accompaniment, transportation, ability to purchase tickets, or even as basic as knowledge of an event.
A talented group of Savannah students graduated with arts backgrounds and are professional musicians across the country. 5 years ago 3 of these accomplished musicians approached the library to offer original classical music programs based on children's literature. We worked with them to create individualized programs that introduced children to both classical music and the musical instruments. This year the program took a giant leap forward when in partnership with the Curtis Institute, the original core group became producers of a new cadre of musical talent. Curtis Institute students are now the performers. This gives the Curtis Institute students valuable experience in reaching out to community youth. At the same time, it shows our community youth that classical musicians can look very much like them. Combine a non-threatening library setting with youthful musicians and add a petting zoo for instruments and you spark excitement for classical music in children who may have never heard it before. Removing the traditional barrier of a stage and presenting the music in a setting that is familar to the children, encourages participation and interaction.
To date thousands of children have participated in our Music Alive! program. This year alone, nearly 1,000 children experienced the magic of the Curtis Institute musicians. Our children have interacted with the performers, asking questions, learning and enjoying classical music. In partnership with a local business, an instrument petting zoo allows the children to actually touch and discover the instruments.
One unexpected outcome was that many of the adults accompanying the children have experienced classical music for the first time. This is one of our most successful multi-generational programs bringing together a true cross-section of our community.
Because the Curtis Institute students represent many different countries, the program has an international flavor much to the delight of children who are from other countries. In one session this year, a young Russian child met his first fellow Russian and was very excited!
Another outcome has been the interest of donors who are intrigued by this non-traditional library program. Connecting the library with the arts has opened new doors for our foundation.
We plan to build on this year's success and continue the program. New partnerships for next year include the internationally acclaimed Savannah Music Festival.