How to use the curriculum

Each unit in the Orchestra Explorers curriculum offers simple and more complex lessons that can be selected depending on your comfort level and your students’ previous experience. Most units share dynamic content that can be used repeatedly, without feeling redundant, to develop a deeper familiarity with the orchestral repertoire and the objectives of each activity.

Each volume of curriculum can take several days or several weeks to teach. Use your best judgment to determine how much time is needed to teach each unit and then map out the time needed to teach the entire curriculum.

Student worksheets are offered for select units.  PDF samples are provided on each unit page. Color copies are distributed with each request; for additional copies please email us at

There are countless ways that the curriculum can be adapted.  Please feel free to be creative and share your successes by adding comments on each unit page.

Tips for using this website

  • Use hyperlinks in each unit to easily access each lesson. Simply click the link (e.g., “Lesson 1”) to skip to the content! Each page features “Back to Top” links for even easier navigation.
  • Some units have highlighted words – these words have pronunciation guides in brackets, to help your students learn even more! Plus, you can find the definitions to many of these in the Firebird Glossary!
  • Print lesson plans from the website to be used in your classroom, or use them directly from the screen of a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Use the embedded playlist to play audio tracks over your computer speakers.
  • Use teacher-submitted comments to adapt Orchestra Explorers to suit the needs of you and your students.
  • Contribute your ideas and suggestions by commenting on each unit page, so other teachers can benefit from your successes. You can also comment with photos – share the work of your students as you teach the curriculum!
  • Share this website with other teachers you know.  It’s as easy as sharing the link on Facebook or over email!
  • Explore the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s website to discover more ways the CSO and the Institute for Learning, Access and Training can enrich your classroom.
  • Need additional help using the website? Let us know at

Tips for using SoundCloud

For CPS teachers, there might be a firewall blocking your access to the SoundCloud tracks. To access them, please follow these steps:

  • Go to 
  • A small window should pop up asking for your credentials
    • Type in you CPS credentials (you do NOT need a SoundCloud account)
  •  Return to the Orchestra Explorers website and refresh the page
  • The SoundCloud tracks should now work

Still having problems? Let us know at