Inside the Orchestra has always prided itself on its in-school programming and Tiny Tots concerts that educate and entertain kids without driving adults crazy. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, however, the nonprofit has been forced to cancel its public events in the name of safety.
With that in mind, the organization on Monday began sending out daily emails filled with activities and content for kids, including Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) experiments, music games and curated playlists that tackle a variety of subjects.
It's free to sign up. The programs are geared toward children from birth to about twelve years old.
“Our musicians will be doing some video performances and lessons for kids,” says Inside the Orchestra Executive Director Shelby Mattingly. “We’ve already put out one interactive online game where they can identify sounds of different orchestral instruments.”
Mattingly says her organization has plans to put out more interactive online activities over the next few weeks. The new material was only released a few days ago, but they have already had people in 35 states sign up for the service. The online posts have reached more than 35,000 people so far.
“Our emails are getting a ton of interest in terms of how much people are engaging with it,” she says. “It seems like we are really meeting a need that people have right now. It’s something we can do to further our mission while our public programming is basically on hold.”
She says creativity and engagement in art is more important than ever, because kids usually have a lot of stimulation and social interaction at school. They are now mostly homebound and are having their whole routine thrown into a tailspin by the school closures. Some of the activities are designed to help kids calm down, while others are geared toward getting them moving and dancing.
Mattingly says kids will be picking up on the stress of the adults around them, so an outlet is critical.
“Art can be a much-needed support during that,” she says. “It can help them explore their feelings in a healthy way. They can share what they are experiencing in an artistic way and give them an outlet.”
Inside the Orchestra is also releasing curated playlists geared toward everyone in the family to help make it through this stressful time when many people are hunkered down in their homes. Some of the playlists tie into the experiments available on the organization’s website.
“Parents right now are super-overwhelmed,” Mattingly notes. “They're trying to home-school their kids. A lot of them are trying to also work from home. We have playlists for everything from family fun — like crank it up to have dance parties — to children's bedtime music. A couple of days ago, we did an activity around the science of sound.”
The music programming won’t make adults reach for ear plugs, either.
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“We pride ourselves on making sure we are providing content and programming that adults and children will enjoy, even though it’s designed for children to learn,” Mattingly says.
She adds that Inside the Orchestra hopes to get its public concerts back up and running this summer. It will depend on whether state officials give everyone the okay to go back outside and congregate in big groups. Last year, the organization hosted performances for about 23,000 people.
“If we are authorized by the governor to do them, we will,” she says. “Safety comes first.”
To sign up for the emails and for more information, visit insidetheorchestra.org.