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Music Van

The Santa Barbara Symphony’s
Music Van

Music Education Program for 3rd grade Students

“Thank you for bringing your instruments to my class and teaching us about the orchestra. I really liked the violin and the trombone. I didn’t know what an oboe was, but you guys taught me about it and that’s really cool. But I think I want to play clarinet because the sound is calming and smooth. THANK YOU MUSIC VAN FRIENDS!”

–3rd grader at Adams Elementary

Thank you to our sponsors and supporters!

  • Music Van Sponsor: Marilynn and Tom Sullivan
  • Music Instrument Sponsor: Nick Rail Music
  • Our Amazing Volunteer Coordinator: Mary Jane Cooper

Program Summary

The Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Van program for Santa Barbara County’s 3rd grade students has been in operation since 1978. Utilizing over 35 community volunteers, the Music Van is a mobile music classroom generously donated by Marilynn and Tom Sullivan in 2002 (vintage Music Van) and 2015 (new Music Van), filled with orchestral instruments, which were kindly donated by Nick Rail Music. We make 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!

Register your classroom

The Santa Barbara Symphony is closely monitoring COVID updates and recommended guidance from our public health experts during this unprecedented and continually evolving situation. Due to the restrictions of COVID-19 the Music Van program will be a little different and will be virtual this year.  Please check back soon for more information!

You can make a difference!

As a non-profit organization, it takes approximately $14,000 Annually to deliver this program to the community at no charge.  We rely on and are grateful for the community’s generous support.  If you would like to help the Symphony bring this program into the community, please Donate by clicking the button below and select your acknowledgment to be attributed to The Music Van.

Fun fact: A little over 50% of students in the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony received their first introduction to music with the Music Van program.

“The Music Van is critical to supplementing in-school music instruction. It sets a strong foundation for the future of my school orchestra and band classes.”

–SBUSD Elementary Music Teacher

Thank you to our sponsors and supporters
  • Music Van Sponsor: Marilynn and Tom Sullivan
  • Music Instrument Sponsor: Nick Rail Music
  • Our Amazing Volunteer Coordinator: Mary Jane Cooper
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