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Celebrating SFUSD’s 30-year partnership with the San Francisco Symphony

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Adventures in Music program — a music education program for students in collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen)

From Mariachi bands to handbell ensembles, African dance to ballet, you probably know by now that San Francisco public school students participate in a rich array of arts education. In addition to the San Francisco Unified School District’s talented teaching artists who guide students every day, we have some of the finest arts’ institutions in the country contributing to our students’ well-rounded education.

30-Year Anniversary of San Francisco Symphony partnership
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the groundbreaking Adventures in Music (AIM) program — a music education program conceived by the San Francisco Symphony in partnership with the SFUSD in 1988. 

The mission of this program is to bring music into the lives of our district’s schoolchildren by integrating live music performances, lessons and experiences with everyday classroom subjects such as language arts, social studies and science.

One of the cornerstone components of the AIM program is that it reflects the diverse cultural heritage of San Francisco’s student population by introducing children to a variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, Latin and Chinese folk music.

I myself have seen this program in action, teaching AIM to my students as an S.F. public elementary school teacher, and later witnessing its impact on my teachers and students as a school principal.

Every elementary school child learns about music
There are two things about AIM that set it apart from the education programs offered by any other symphony orchestra in the country: equity and consistency.

San Francisco Symphony’s AIM program provides equitable access to music education throughout the entire school district. That means every single student, in every single SFUSD public elementary school experiences this program, and receives the same opportunity to engage with and learn about their world through music.

The other critical component of AIM is the consistency with which our students are exposed to high quality, tailored musical experiences throughout each year of elementary school — providing five consecutive years of music education for our district’s first through fifth graders.

This week, I am attending a celebratory 30th Anniversary Adventures in Music concert at Sanchez Elementary featuring an island-inspired, rhythmically-driven performance by AIM teaching ensemble Caribbean Express. This concert aptly demonstrates the unique, interactive musical experiences that enhance the lives of our all of our SFUSD elementary school students through the AIM program.

Next month, these same students, along with 14,000 others from all over The City will travel with their classes to Davies Symphony Hall to experience a special performance by the San Francisco Symphony that culminates the curriculum of classroom lessons and in-school musical presentations the students have interacted with all year.

The SFUSD’s partnership with the San Francisco Symphony has been enriching our school district’s teachers and students for three decades—providing the resources and experiences to make music a part of every child’s school life. That is worth celebrating!

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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