The Symphony Music Education Center

The Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Van

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!


Registration for the 2018 Music Van season is now open to schools in Santa Barbara County!  Please fill out the online application 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.

Music Van News

More Information

Kristine Pacheco
Education Programs Manager