A School of Music outreach program, Partners in Music, has received the "Robby D. Gunstream Education in Music Award" from the College Music Society. The purpose of the award is to recognize established and on-going, imaginative and effective programs of engagement by higher education music faculty members that further education in music with local or area organizations (e.g., schools, civic associations, faith organizations). The award comes with a cash prize which will be used to produce the 10th anniversary Partners in Music concert at Eisenhower Auditorium on November 13, 2016 at 3:00 p.m.
Partners in Music, created by music education faculty members Linda Thornton and Robert Gardner, provides the opportunity for young instrumentalists and prospective music teachers to make music together. Over six Wednesdays in the fall semester, fifth-grade students from State College Area School District and Our Lady of Victory School rehearse on Penn State's campus, conducted by senior music education majors. The rehearsals culminate in a concert in early December.
Begun as a pilot program in 2006, the partnership has grown to include three ensembles (two bands and one string orchestra) consisting of approximately 150 young instrumentalists each year. The students' teachers (Lisa Bevan, Carolyn Gardner, Monica Kenney, Mary Krohn-Smith, Sandy Muller, and Roy Schaeffer) volunteer their time to prepare students in lessons and attend rehearsals. The Penn State students also gain valuable experience making music with children as part of their course work.
Professors Thornton and Gardner were honored in 2015 with the University's "Community Engagement and Scholarship Award" for their work with the Partners in Music collaboration. The program will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in fall 2016.