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Music program is breaking down barriers

In Harmony volunteer

Music is for everyone! Thanks to three-year, $30,000 Bright Idea Fund grant from the Community Foundation, Fox Valley Symphony has been able to expand its music outreach program, In Harmony, to eight different sites throughout the Fox Valley.

In Harmony partners a Fox Valley Symphony orchestra string quartet with a licensed music therapist, volunteers and music education students from Lawrence University to bring music therapy performances to a variety of special needs classrooms and adult day centers.

While each session is different, the basic structure includes a string quartet performing light tunes, while music therapists work to engage the audience with different instruments. Interactions with music typically include singing, clapping, hand gestures and waving scarves in time with the music.

“Participants work one-on-one with student helpers and staff, and also participate as a group to help open the door to communicating with those around them, in small or large settings,” said Jamie Lafreniere, Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra Executive Director.

The programs are specifically designed to engage individuals of all abilities in the appreciation and creation of music.

Waving scarves to the music

“In addition to the intrinsic value of engagement with music, teachers and staff indicated that In Harmony made a significant impact helping participants achieve their individual learning and therapeutic goals,” Lafreniere said.

What started as a small pilot program has grown into something that is much needed and highly praised by the community. The impact of the program can be measured in reactions from the participants:

“One student who is shy really enjoys music, and to see her smiling, engaging, and having fun with her peers was a real joy. For my student who is blind, it was neat to see how much she enjoyed hearing the music and the sounds she could create with her instruments. She would talk about it outside of class as well,” said a teacher at Appleton West High School.

“From the first notes played, they were smiling, engaged and having fun. The combination of great music with the option to join in via instruments, scarves and kazoos made it a magical experience for all of us,” Staff at Mathews of Neenah Memory Care said.

“Many of our children have never been exposed to orchestra instruments and music. This was a wonderful opportunity to give them a new experience without having to travel as transitions are very difficult for many of our children,” Bridges Child Enrichment Center said.

James Madison student

In Harmony breaks down the barriers to music accessibility and gives children and adults with special needs the opportunity to engage and interact with music in everyday life.

“The impact of music is incredible! It can take someone who is unresponsive and bring them right back to the present moment and have them connecting one-on-one with people around them,” Lafreniere said.

If your classroom or community would like to be considered as a future In Harmony partner, please contact Oliver Zornow, Community Engagement Manager at [email protected]

You can make the Bright Ideas burn even brighter by adding your support.

Check out our current Bright Idea Fund results from 2018 – 2019!
See how our Bright Idea Fund impacted our community last year.


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