The Dana Brown Charitable Trust was proud to partner with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) on a special concert experience for St. Louis area students.
In November, the SLSO performed two unique concerts for students and staff of the Special School District of St. Louis County and other schools for individuals with a range of special needs. These concerts were unique in that they were part of SLSO’s Sensory-Friendly Education Concerts program. The program, performed in partnership with the St. Louis Jewish Community Center and with assistance from the Dana Brown Charitable Trust, brought the magic of Peter and the Wolf to hundreds of students with special needs.
Students with disabilities generally have fewer opportunities to engage with the arts than their peers. For many of the students present, it was their first time attending a live concert. For one of the schools in attendance, it was the first field trip the school had ever been invited to participate in.
The students in attendance included those with physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities. At the sensory-friendly concerts, students could stand, clap, vocalize and otherwise experience and enjoy the concert in a sensory-friendly environment that is warm, welcoming and judgement-free. The SLSO provided stress balls in the form of a wolf for each child as a self-regulating device during the concert, in addition to providing break rooms for students who became overstimulated. SLSO musicians, staff and volunteers from both the SLSO and the Jewish Book Festival received advance training in preparation for these inclusive concerts.
The sensory-friendly concerts are just one part of the SLSO’s long standing and robust education programs, and the SLSO has hosted concerts for children with special needs dating back to the 80s and early 90s. In its most recent season, the orchestra reached 50,000 students in almost 500 schools through in-school visits and concerts at Powell Hall, where the SLSO has performed for more than 50 years.
The orchestra has committed to making all education concerts free by the 2020/2021 season. The Dana Brown Charitable Trust is proud to partner with the SLSO in pursuit of this mission and help uplift students in the St. Louis metro area through exposure to the arts.