Learning In


Learning in Concert

Learning in Concert is an in-school partnership program with the NBSO and over forty local elementary schools in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It uses a concept-based arts integration model where a musical concept is explored alongside other art and academic areas that authentically share the same concept. The Learning in Concert program is designed as a unified, comprehensive, three-phase curriculum project spanning an entire school year. The program begins with an in-school, arts integrated assembly concert program, followed by individual classroom lessons partnering the NBSO Education Director with individual classroom teachers and students, primarily third graders. The third phase is the culminating event where students’ year-long creative work and collaborations are featured and performed at the annual Young People’s Concerts. More than 8,000 students will participate this year, including all second and third grade students from New Bedford Public Schools.



2021-2022: Gravity in Space and Sound In-School and Virtual Program

Gravity is described as the force of attraction between two objects. In our solar system, the gravitational force between the sun and the planets defines their movement through space. In music, there is a force of attraction between notes that is created by tonality. In the 2021-2022 Learning in Concert program, we will demonstrate the concept of gravity through astronomy, physics and music; through exploring gravitational forces operating within our solar system and by performing classical music that shares these same forces within a musical system.

Classical music is structured around tonality; the relationship that exists within a musical system. The tonal center within a musical system is called the tonic. The tonic within a musical system functions similarly to the sun within a solar system. Throughout a piece of music, chords or groupings of sounds demonstrate varying degrees of pull toward the tonic.
This is musical gravity.

In the Learning in Concert program, children will hear music that exemplifies the gravitational forces between each planet and the sun. For Mercury, its quick orbital rate of 88 days is due to its close proximity and stronger gravitational force interacting with the sun. The children will hear Mercury’s orbit through space with classical music that has a strong gravitational pull to the tonic while moving in short, fast revolutions. In contrast, Neptune’s slow orbital rate of nearly 165 years and reduced gravitational force is due to its 2.8-billion-mile distance from the sun. To demonstrate Neptune’s orbit, the children will hear classical music that moves slowly with a longer harmonic revolution that has a greater range of motion pulling away and back to the tonic.

While many classrooms are filled with models of planets in our solar system, these models cannot demonstrate how gravity interacts and influences the ways in which they move or orbit. Music has this ability to allow children to hear their motion and to perceive the different ways in which they orbit due to their interaction with the sun’s curvature of spacetime. While gravity’s invisible nature makes it a difficult concept for children to understand, gravity as shown through music allows them to connect to the concept with a more concrete, visible and audible representation.

2020-2021: Bird Flight Patterns and Music Virtual Concert Program and Online Curriculum

In the 2020-2021 Learning in Concert program, students will explore five flight patterns used by various bird species and hear classical music that moves in the same motion as each flight pattern. In this virtual concert program, students will hear a performance by the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra as the orchestra performs classical music that has the same melodic and rhythmic motion as specific bird flight patterns. The concert video includes the world premiere of Jamie Allen’s Nightingale Concerto with recorder soloist, Heloise Degrugillier, a performance of Derek Bermel’s Murmurations: Swarming Rome, a Mendelssohn String Symphony, Haydn’s 14th Symphony and a popular waltz by Strauss.

Featured guests include Xavi Bou, photographer for the Ornitographies Project, David Lentink from Stanford University’s Bird Flight Robotics Lab, Sam Claggett and Cisco the Great Horned Owl from the Buttonwood Park Zoo, and NBSO violinist, Travis Rapoza performing Vaughan William’s Lark Ascending.

The online curriculum includes music, science, art, photography and writing lessons and activities with extra musical performance videos, games, composer interviews and play-along videos where students can perform with NBSO musicians on repertoire from the concert.

Visit the New Bedford Symphony homepage to bring this program to your school or homeschool this year. This program is scheduled to be released on March 23, 2021.

2019-2020: Tracking Rhythms: Shared Rhythms in Classical Music and Animal Gait Patterns

In the 2019-2020 Learning in Concert program, students will engage in a cross-domain exploration of rhythm, investigating the ways composers create diverse and engaging surface rhythmic groupings in classical music and how similar rhythmic groupings can be discovered in the gaits of quadrupedal animals, such as walk, trot, canter, gallop, and bound.

In science, students will observe quadrupedal gaits in motion and analyze them by the sequence of their limb movements. Students will also examine animal ground track patterns to identify the various quadrupedal gaits and to speculate about the rhythmic patterns each animal creates when moving across a surface. In music, the students will determine how composers organize rhythmic groupings and vary rhythmic activity throughout a piece of music. In this program, students are encouraged to find a connection between the energy and rhythmic activity of classical music and quadrupedal locomotion.   

2018-2019: Resourceful Composer, Resourceful Planet

This year Learning in Concert program explored how the compositional techniques of great composers can also serve to model ways to reduce plastic pollution. Be Like Beethoven: Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle, Reduce!

In the 2018-2019 Learning in Concert Program, students explored three compositional techniques used by masterful composers that also serve as three models to improve the growing plastic pollution problem. The key to a sustainable planet lies within these composers’ resourceful skills. During the composition process, the skillful composer will reuse (repeat), repurpose (modify), and recycle (reconstruct) musical ideas within a piece of music. Use of these techniques has allowed great composers like Beethoven to create beautiful symphonies crafted from a small amount of musical material. Just like Beethoven, these same three techniques of reuse, repurpose, and recycle are also effective actions needed to reduce plastic pollution on our planet.

Each year, over 2 million metric tons of plastics ends up in our oceans, with only 9% of the world’s plastic currently being recycled. This has created a serious problem to our aquatic, airborne and terrestrial environments and to the health of humans and marine and land animals. Throughout the Learning in Concert program, students explored the concepts of reuse, repurpose, and recycle through musical composition and hands-on, plastic repurposing activities.

View Past Programs

2018-2019: Resourceful Composer, Resourceful Planet

2017-2018: The Orchestra as an Ecosystem: Symphony Symbiosis

2016-2017: Gravity in Space in Sound

2015-2016: Adaptations in Motion: Animal and Musical

Education Director

Education Director Terry Wolkowicz’s innovative and creative approach to designing music education curriculum has made the NBSO a leader in educational programming. Now in her ninth season with the NBSO, she continues to create innovative programming that connects classical music to our South Coast children’s lives and to encourage learning by exploring concepts that are authentically shared between classical… 

Educational Programs

Learning in concert

This program is designed as a unified, comprehensive, three-phase curriculum project spanning an entire school year. LIC uses a concept-based arts integration model where a musical concept is explored alongside other art and academic areas that authentically... 


The Southeastern Massachusetts Youth Orchestras (SEMAYO) program was established in 2008 under the auspices of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra for students from pre-school beginners to advanced college players.

symphony tales

The Symphony Tales program is a music and literacy educational program geared to children ages four through seven. In the Symphony Tales program, children attend a reading of a popular children’s book while being accompanied by a live musical performance by a New Bedford Symphony Orchestra musician.

Translate »