About Orchestra Explorers

For more than 90 years, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has offered educational programming to share the joy and excitement of orchestral music with young people across our region. The Orchestra Explorers program demonstrates our investment in supporting the needs of students and teachers, nurturing interest and enthusiasm for classical music while offering easy and relevant connections to a variety of academic areas.

Each unit in our Orchestra Explorers curriculum shares dynamic content that develops a deeper familiarity with orchestral repertoire and the focal concepts of each unit within the curriculum. Activities are designed to help students develop fundamental musical skills and the ability to respond reflectively and creatively to a work of art.

Orchestra Explorers is designed to be accessible for classroom teachers who do not have previous experience teaching music.  It is also used with great success by teachers in a variety of roles, including music teachers, visual art teachers, librarians, literacy specialists, special education teachers, and more.  With the support of teacher workshops, we hope that you will feel comfortable implementing the curriculum as we have outlined it in the learning units. 

The curriculum aligns with the Common Core State Standards, National Standards for Arts Education, and the Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, the arts curriculum framework for the Chicago Public Schools. A representative sample of the Common Core State Standards and National Standards for Arts Education that connect to each lesson are located at the bottom of each unit page. Please note that expansions or adaptations that you develop for the curriculum may connect to more learning standards than those listed on our website.

Orchestra Explorers supports the development of many twenty-first century skills that are linked with participation and learning in the performing arts, including creativity, collaboration, and teamwork. It also provides students with the opportunity to connect with timeless works of art, offering enriching connections to many academic areas, and supporting a wide range of students’ goals and needs.

The Negaunee Music Institute has developed three volumes of Orchestra Explorers materials, though only the first volume is available at this time.


Project team: Jon Weber, Katy Clusen, Alyssa Crance, and Kelly Jenkins
Written by Cari Dinglasan, Avo Randruut, and Jon Weber
Graphic design by Shawn Sheehy
Illustrations by John Aardema
Recording engineered by Chris Willis
Produced by Jon Weber
Website by Kelly Jenkins, Alyssa Crance, and Steven Burkholder

Orchestra Explorers has been made possible with support from The Negaunee Foundation and John and Fran Edwardson.  Additional support is provided by gifts to the Institute Annual Fund.

Special thanks to the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, especially J. Lawrie Bloom, Robert Chen, Roger Cline, Patricia Dash, Jennifer Gunn, Tage Larsen, and Stephen Lester; Mikko Franck, Charlie Grode, Colleen Kamin, Cathy Main, Ashleigh McGovern, and Nancy Ocampo.

© 2015 The Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra