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Symphony Storytime with Your Phoenix Symphony Musicians

June 27, 2024


In May, musicians from the Phoenix Symphony formed a brass quintet and travelled to Collier Business Academy Elementary School in Avondale to perform Symphony Storytime, a new program with music repertoire chosen by the Symphony’s Associate Principal Trumpet player, Benny Nguyen.

The Symphony Storytime program is a 45-minute performance encouraging young students to use their imagination. It presents a fictional story taking place in downtown Phoenix about a Musician walking from their home to Symphony Hall for an orchestra rehearsal. Symphony Storytime utilizes a narrator, musical interludes of various genres and sound effects that take the students on a journey through the streets of downtown Phoenix.

The story begins with the sound of the Musician’s alarm clock played by a trumpet with a Harmon mute, which is a device used on trumpets and trombones to alter the timbre and lower the volume of the instrument. The narrator begins the story by describing the Musician’s morning routine complete with stretching, coffee and getting dressed. The students learn about reoccurring melodies by hearing the repeated “walking” music every time the Musician is walking down the street; sometimes played slower to signify walking slower and sometimes played faster to signify rushing. The Musician first hears the loud and halting sound of an ambulance, played by a trombone, while walking down the street. This is where students learn about sound waves, amplification and the exciting Doppler Effect where pitch is affected by how close or far the sound waves are to the listener. Then the Musician stops by a coffee shop to grab breakfast. As they leave, they see buskers on the street playing jazz music with a hat out asking for change. The busker scene is played by a trombone and tuba who play standing up in the audience while the other non-playing musicians in the group walk by and place change in the hat.

The Musician sees and hears many things on their way to Symphony Hall. They walk by a playground where they play hide-and-seek and snap their fingers along to the music, and they even pass movie banners! The students get to hear the “Imperial March” or Darth Vader’s Theme by John Williams which is always a crowd favorite. Finally, the Musician in the story makes it to Symphony Hall just in time for orchestra rehearsal.

Symphony Storytime was written to bring young students into the real world of being a professional musician. Many students in remote districts don’t get to come to Symphony Hall to see the Phoenix Symphony’s home. The idea of this program was to encapsulate the feeling of being downtown and experiencing, through the story, what it is like to work and live in the cultural heart of downtown Phoenix as a Phoenix Symphony musician. Cristina Cutts Dougherty, Principal Tubist in the Phoenix Symphony says, “It’s amazing to see the impact that these shows can have on the kids, especially how storytelling through music connects them more deeply to both us and what we do. They are so engaged in these programs and presenting them is one of my favorite parts of being in the Phoenix Symphony!”

To read more about our education programs, please visit











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