Kids’ Orchestra’s (KO) mission is to build a community of creative, confident, and socially engaged students through music education. KO serves over 350 elementary-age students across East Baton Rouge Parish and gives them the opportunity to study music, play an instrument, and perform in an ensemble.
Founded in 2010, Kids’ Orchestra (KO) continues providing its El Sistema-inspired, afterschool program that provides the opportunity to create and enjoy the arts by increasing skills in and the knowledge of music, social and emotional learning opportunities, and supplemental nutrition reaching nearly 350 students at 9 program sites across East Baton Rouge Parish. With almost half of the population from low-income communities, needs-based scholarships for up to 98% of tuition are provided. A well-maintained, correctly sized instrument for each student is provided free of charge. Over 36 accomplished teaching artists, many completing graduate studies at Louisiana State University’s School of Music, meet with students two times a week to provide music instruction. They eat a healthy snack, get help with homework and academic tutoring plus direct contact with caring adults. Every student has the opportunity to perform in two Neighborhood Concerts.
KO’s diverse group of students of different races and socio-economic classes receive socio-emotional learning and positive behavior support at each session. Coupled with small group music instruction, students broaden their understanding of themselves as individuals, establish their place in the community, foster mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups, and inter-racial and cultural harmony is improved. A four-year longitudinal study by an independent evaluator evidences KO’s El Sistema-inspired “whole child” growth across both quantitative and qualitative measures.
KO achieves its mission through close collaborations with the Baton Rouge community. Our partnerships with area schools help KO deliver on their arts and music education plan even where many do not have music programs or have limited access. Our relationships with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, the Arts Council, and LSU School of Music gives KO students access to free concerts, high-quality teaching artists, and community performances. Students’ public performances provide affordable access to the arts in a community where limited opportunities exist.
In addition to a highly trained teaching artists staff, Jody Hanet, KO Executive Director, brings over 25 years of working in music education and arts administration to the leadership team. To complement Hanet, the administrative staff represents years of experience in music performance, nonprofit development, and education. KO’s board of directors represent community leaders that cross professions and add strategic guidance in all areas including healthcare, legal, real estate, marketing, and fundraising.
Social Emotional Learning Activities
Audience Members Reached
“Play is the highest form of research” -Albert Einstein
2017: Perceptions of Participation in Kids Orchestra of Baton Rouge: A survey of children, Parents / Guardians, Classroom Teachers, and Teaching Artists with grade score analysis of participants
2019: Perceptions of Participation in Kids Orchestra of Baton Rouge: A survey of children, Parents / Guardians, Classroom Teachers, and Teaching Artists with grade score analysis of participants
Performers as Teachers: A Case Study on How Two El Sistema-Inspired Teaching Artists’ Performance Identities Manifested During Instruction
A Cycle of Giving: Transforming Individuals, Transforming Community in a Louisiana Children’s Choir