Education & Service

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement (ECE) programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music.

NJSO’s education programming provides access to quality music instruction both in-school and out-of-school. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People, NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project). NJSO musicians annually perform more than 165 customized chamber music programs for all ages and abilities in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, corporations and community centers. These programs offer vital arts learning experiences that reinforce psycho-social outcomes, bring students joy, and help students to grow in confidence and self-esteem.

The NJSO’s community programs help to address people’s basic need for livable communities, inspiring a sense of togetherness, identity and pride. Designed by NJSO musicians, these customized, small ensemble programs bring music enrichment to diverse venues in nearly all 21 counties of the state—creating opportunities for people to share experiences that nurture the collective soul.In total, the Orchestra’s ECE programs annually serve as many 60,000 New Jerseyans in nearly 21 counties.

Select Examples of Program Impact

The NJSO Music and Wellness Program promotes healing through music for patients, staff and, caregivers through a chamber concert series and/or customized bed-side serenades by our musicians. These customized offerings provide social, emotional, and therapeutic benefits in hospital settings – including creating positive, uplifting environments to help listeners relax. Adding to the quality of life of patients, staff, and visiting loved ones, the NJSO Music and Wellness Program serves a variety of healthcare facilities, including nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospices.

NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project) is an intensive after-school offering inspired by the Venezuelan social change and music education program El Sistema. NJSO CHAMPS seeks to develop students’ goal-directed behavior and skills to foster social and academic success, improving students’ self-esteem, academic achievement and lifelong character traits like perseverance and leadership. Evaluation studies by WolfBrown show that participants’ academic grades have increased by nearly three times as much as their non-participating peers.

Initiated by two of New Jersey’s premier performing arts organizations—New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO)—MANY (Music Advancement for Newark-area Youth) is a partnership designed to provide opportunities for high-quality instrumental music instruction. Comprised of two sister ensembles – the NJSO Training Ensemble (of the NJSO Youth Orchestras) and the NJPAC Symphonic Band, the partnership is designed to serve beginning and experienced students alike.

Its more than 100 young musicians, spanning grades 4–11, can study string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments with the goal of developing musical and instrumental proficiency while building leadership skills. MANY also aims to prepare young instrumentalists for acceptance into performance-based educational programs within the community, including Arts High School Orchestra and Concert Band, Newark School of the Arts, NJPAC Brick City Jazz Orchestra and Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program and NJSO Youth Orchestras.

See all of the programs and learn more


Supporters make these programs possible

These life-enriching programs would not exist without the support of many generous donors. Click on each program below to view the individuals, companies, foundation and government support which make it all possible.

Youth Orchestras

  • BD
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • The Ralph M. Cestone Foundation
  • Merck Foundation
  • M&T Bank (Youth Orchestras Winter and Spring Concert Sponsor)
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Panasonic Corporation of North America
  • Turrell Fund
  • Victoria Foundation (Training Ensemble Sponsor)
  • Wells Fargo
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Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Coach-in-Residence

  • The Ralph M. Cestone Foundation
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • Merck Foundation
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Panasonic Corporation of North America
  • Turrell Fund
  • Victoria Foundation
  • Wells Fargo
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Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

NJSO CHAMPS

  • Broadridge Foundation
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation
  • The Ralph M. Cestone Foundation
  • The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
  • Ken and Susan Fahrenholtz
  • The Leavens Foundation
  • The Harold I. and Faye B. Liss Foundation
  • Macy’s
  • Merck Foundation
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Panasonic Corporation of North America
  • Turrell Fund
  • Verizon
  • Wells Fargo
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Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

In-School Performances

  • The Ralph M. Cestone Foundation
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • Merck Foundation
  • Panasonic Corporation of North America
  • Turrell Fund
  • Wells Fargo
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Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Preschool Program

  • The Ralph M. Cestone Foundation
  • Merck Foundation
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Panasonic Corporation of North America
  • PNC Foundation
  • Turrell Fund
  • Wells Fargo
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Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

School-Time Concerts

  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • The Ralph M. Cestone Foundation
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck Foundation
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Panasonic Corporation of North America
  • Turrell Fund
  • Wells Fargo
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Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

NJSO Autism Community Program

  • The Ralph M. Cestone Foundation
  • Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck Foundation
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
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Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

NJSO Music & Wellness Program

  • Hackensack Meridian Health
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck

Special thanks to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Hackensack Meridian Health for their help with the production of the promotional video.