The Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Van, generously donated by Marilynn and Tom Sullivan, has been in operation since 1978. The Music Van is a mobile music classroom filled with orchestral instruments, which were kindly donated by Nick Rail Music. It makes annual visits to 3rd grade classrooms in the greater Santa Barbara area from September through December. The Music Van serves about 2,000 students in more than 40 schools each year. For many kids, the Music Van provides the first opportunity for them to see, hear and “play” a real musical instrument.
Music Van docents conduct a one-hour session with students. During the first half hour, students are introduced to the orchestra, conductor, and the instruments. A CD is used to demonstrate the sound of each instrument and a professional musician accompanies the docents to demonstrate an instrument group (strings, woodwinds, brass, or percussion). The students are able to try out all the instruments during the second half hour, and this is the most fun part for them! There are usually two one-hour sessions at a school, and the teachers LOVE the program!
- Winner of the 2009 California Teacher’s Association Gold Award for Outstanding Support of Public Education
- Winner of the 2007 Sally Parker Education Gold Award from the League of American Orchestras
- Noozhawk article: "Santa Barbara Symphony Van Brings Sound of Music to Third-Graders"
- Music Van at Santa Barbara Bowl (August 2015)
- Music Van visits Monroe Elementary School (November 2015)
- Music Van visits Canalino Elementary School (December 2015)
- Music Van at Hands On Music Festival (May 2016)
Register Your School
Registration for the Fall 2017 Music Van tour is now open! Click here to sign-up.
Make a Donation to the Music Van
Any money donated will be used to purchase equipment for the Music Van. Make checks payable to Santa Barbara Symphony with “Music Van” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Santa Barbara Symphony, Attn: Music Van, 1330 State St., Ste 102, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.
There is something magical about seeing a child hold and “play” an instrument for the first time. Many of these children are then inspired to take music lessons and participate in musical experiences for the rest of their lives. Thank you for supporting the Music Van and helping to enrich the education of our children.
Amy Williams, DMA
Director of Education & Community Engagement