Symphony2U is a unique education outreach effort designed to bolster existing orchestra programs in Tacoma Public Schools with scant resources. With Pierce County’s 12% poverty level, youth access to music programming is highly inequitable and inversely proportional to level of affluence. Symphony Tacoma’s Symphony2U is uniquely positioned to assist. Our professional musicians provide instruction, coaching and adult mentorship for students who would otherwise not be able to benefit from private lessons. 

What began with three less-advantaged high schools (Foss, Lincoln and Mount Tahoma) has grown to include three middle schools (Baker, First Creek and Gray) and two elementary schools (Fawcett and Manitou Park). During each school’s cycle, Symphony musicians lead eight sessions at each school in partnership with the schools’ orchestra teachers. The experiences culminates in a finale session that brings in additional players for a quintet-masterclass for older students or a performance for family and friends for the younger musicians.

Whether or not the students choose to pursue music further, youth served by Symphony2U experience the steady presence of caring adult mentors who work with them individually and in groups. In addition to music instruction, our coaches seek to empower the kids to manage their feelings, find healthy outlets for their creative energy, build camaraderie, and discover and develop their emotional and intellectual assets. Teachers report observing an increase in prosocial behaviors, including evidence of enhanced self-compassion, peer empathy, active listening, conflict resolution skills, verbalization of feelings, pride in accomplishment, among other qualities. 


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