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DSO live streams concerts to 40,000 kids

Kate Wells
Michigan Radio

Between 40,000 and 50,000 classroom kids watched a live high-definition web stream of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra today, according to the DSO.

The symphony says it’s the first concert of its kind, reaching kids across Detroit and Michigan.

Paul Hogle is the DSO’s executive vice president.

"I think there's an opportunity for us to do this for hundreds of thousands of students,” he says, "because the Detroit Symphony Orchestra could become America's orchestra for educational concert programming."

"You don't have to be in Detroit, you could be in the outskirts of the farthest-away city imaginable, and tune in for 40 minutes for an educationally based broadcast for your classroom," says Hogle. 

The DSO has already had tremendous success with its live-stream concerts for adults in countries around the world, reaching an estimated audience of 750,000 people. 

Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The DSO live streams to classes

At University YES Academy in Detroit, third graders watch as DSO assistant conductor Michelle Merrill and conductor Damon Gupton take them through lessons about melody ("the part of the song that you can hum, you can sing to," says Merrill) and classic and contemporary American composers, from Leonard Bernstein to Aaron Copeland and Mason Bates.

The kids have individual packets to fill out during the program, with room to draw pictures of the musicians and instruments, and answer questions like: "What do you see in your mind when you listen to the music?"

"This music reminds me of a spy mission or the movie 'Spy Kids' and Cinderella when she's sad and music from some snowflake song," says third grader Chyann Bancom. 

In a second grade classroom, Shakirra Butler and Tatiana Stocchi listen to Mason Butler's "Warehouse Medicine," a contemporary ode to the birthplace of techno: Detroit.

Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
After the DSO concert

Their teacher asks them to draw what Detroit sounds like to them.

"I think it sounds like cars and buses," says Tatiana.

"I think it would sound like a drum. Because drums are a big, big noise." 

The girls admit that things got a little boring at points during the 40 minute performance. 

Tatiana would prefer some Justin Bieber. Shakirra is a Beyonce fan.

In what sounds like a stupid question even to me, I ask them which is better: Beyonce, or the Detroit Symphony Orchestra?

"Um, I think the Detroit," says Tatiana, politely.

Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Girls talk about the DSO concert.

And Shakirra?


 Even if it's just good manners, as far as second graders go, the DSO can't ask for a better review. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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