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Billy Joel School Concert Program

Established in 2008 with an extraordinary donation from legendary singer-songwriter and composer Billy Joel, the Billy Joel Fund for Music Education is specifically earmarked to expand and improve music education in the School District of Philadelphia. The Billy Joel School Concert Program was designed to reward and celebrate the schools and principals who, in the face of constricting budgets and increasingly limited resources, have chosen to support the well-rounded education of their students by hiring full-time music teachers.

The Billy Joel Fund allows the Orchestra to provide each designated school with tickets and transportation to a School Concert performance in order to eliminate all barriers to access. Approximately 80 elementary and middle schools are selected to participate from within the district, serving more than 3,500 students and teachers each season. Since its inception, the Billy Joel Program has made it possible for 19,280 students and teachers to experience The Philadelphia Orchestra in Verizon Hall.

Program Objectives

To improve access, the Billy Joel School Concert Program strives to achieve the following key objectives:

  • Physical access: Every child will experience a performance of a symphony orchestra in a concert hall, cultivating a positive interest and curiosity in classical music.
  • Cultural access: Every child should know about the traditions and behavioral expectations of attending an orchestra concert, so that he or she feels comfortable returning to the concert hall.
  • Cognitive access: Every child should be able to identify, explain, and/or apply the meaning of the following fundamental vocabulary: orchestra, conductor, concertmaster, composer, tuning, strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

Requirements and Resources

To participate in the Billy Joel Program, schools and their music teachers must commit to attending a professional development session, devoting instructional time for preparation and reflection, and completing post-concert student and teacher evaluation surveys. Teachers are provided with classroom resources, including a School Concert Curriculum Guide and recordings of the concert music, and arrangements for bus transportation are made on behalf of each school through the district’s Office of Music Education. Participation in the program is pre-selected and not open at-large via application.