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Orchestras head back to school

A decade ago, the position of "education director" was a rarity at symphony orchestras nationwide. Today, orchestras without one are the exception, and they are responsible for directing hundreds of programs that bring symphonies and communities together.

For example:

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* Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Its program involves more than 8,000 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. The school curriculum integrates music into other subjects. Orchestra ensembles perform at schools and each grade attends a symphony concert.

* Boston Symphony Orchestra. As a partner in the Boston Music Education Collaborative, the orchestra works with teachers and students in 10 Boston elementary and middle schools.

* Austin (Texas) Symphony Orchestra. Members make visits to elementary schools. High-schoolers may sit in with the orchestra or even play as soloists. Musical principles are introduced across the curriculum. For example, science classes learn about acoustics; social-studies classes may learn about styles of dance.

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