Press Release:

SEATTLE SYMPHONY INTRODUCES SENSORY FRIENDLY CONCERTS

Press Release:

Tuesday, 8 November, 2016

Concerts provide a comfortable environment where children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder can enjoy music with their families

Photo by Carlin Ma

Seattle, WA — Following a successful pilot last spring, the Seattle Symphony launches a series of Sensory Friendly Concerts November 12 and 13. The new program, which are designed specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities, invites families with children ages 5 to 8 to enjoy small chamber works and participatory group songs in the intimate space of Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center. Additional concerts this season will take place on February 4 and 5, and April 22 and 23.

“Families with children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities may experience barriers to attending our Family Concerts and traditional Seattle Symphony concerts,” said Kristin Schneider, Education & Community Engagement Manager for the Seattle Symphony. “Inclusivity is one of the Symphony’s core values, so we wanted to create an experience that could be adapted to serve these families’ needs.”

The program was developed in partnership with the University of Washington Autism Center with special assistance from Dr. Annette Estes, Director of the UW Autism Center, and their Training staff.

“The UW Autism Center was instrumental in developing the program from the very beginning,” said Schneider. “They provided extensive feedback on everything from how to adapt the program to what music to play. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

The experience includes instrument exploration before or after the concert, a meet-and-greet with the featured musicians, and a 35-minute performance hosted by a board-certified music therapist. Each concert will highlight a different social skill and offer opportunities for families to connect with one another within and outside of the concert setting.

“We’re very fortunate to have Michael Lauckner as our host and narrator,” said Schneider. “As a board-certified music therapist, he makes changes on the spot to adapt the show to the audience by switching songs, coaching the musicians to play softer or louder, and deciding when to sing and dance together.”

Each family is paired with a concert buddy, a student volunteer from the music therapy program at Seattle Pacific University. They greet the families at the door and guide them through the experience.

Other concert features include:

  • Small group size. The experience accommodates only ten families at each performance.
  • Flexible seating options, including sensory cushions and zones designated for sitting, standing and dancing.
  • Comfortable lighting and lower volumes to accommodate visual and auditory sensitivities.
  • Resources emailed to families before the event, including a social story, visual schedule, photos of performers and the venue, and recordings of the featured chamber works.

The series includes three concert weekends in Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discover Center on selected Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. or 12 noon.

“These concerts are the first time many children and families are able to participate in a concert,” said Schneider. “I remember watching one particular child show his mother what he was excited about on the visual schedule we provided. In the end, it’s about creating a special experience for these families that they can share together.”

Visit seattlesymphony.org/sensoryfriendly to learn more.

Concert Details:

SENSORY FRIENDLY CONCERTS: THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13 at 10 a.m. and 12 noon

Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center

Benaroya Hall

Seattle Symphony musicians and Board-Certified Music Therapist Michael Lauckner bring to life this familiar children’s story, alongside other short chamber works. Participatory group songs will highlight “greeting others” as a social skill. The concert experience includes instrument exploration before or after the show, a meet-and-greet with the featured musicians, and a 35-minute performance.

SENSORY FRIENDLY CONCERTS: TWO CATS

Saturday, February 4 and Sunday, February 5 at 10 a.m. and 12 noon

Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center

Benaroya Hall

Seattle Symphony musicians and Board-Certified Music Therapist Michael Lauckner present the stunning and simple composition Trees by Daniel Dorff, written to accompany the poem of the same name by Joyce Kilmer. Through participatory group songs and a duet for clarinet and flute, we’ll explore what can happen when we take turns playing music together. The concert experience includes instrument exploration before or after the show, a meet-and-greet with the featured musicians, and a 35-minute performance.

SENSORY FRIENDLY CONCERTS: THE OLD MAGICIAN

Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23 at 10 a.m. and 12 noon

Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center

Benaroya Hall

Seattle Symphony musicians and Board-Certified Music Therapist Michael Lauckner bring audience members along on a journey with an old magician’s assistant as he helps his master with one last experiment. Through the magician’s story and participatory group songs, we’ll highlight listening to others and lending a helping hand. The concert experience includes instrument exploration before or after the show, a meet-and-greet with the featured musicians, and a 35-minute performance.

The Seattle Symphony’s Family, School & Community programs are supported by 4Culture, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The Boeing Company, Chihuly Garden + Glass, Citi Community Capital, The Clowes Fund, Inc., the Elizabeth McGraw Foundation, Key Bank Foundation, the League of American Orchestras, Richard and Francine Loeb, Kjristine Lund, D.V. and Ida J. McEachern Charitable Trust, Music4Life, Music Works Northwest, the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, the Peg and Rick Young Foundation, Peo Tours, Inc., Russell Investments, Seattle Pacific University, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, Christine and Michel Suignard, Ten Grands Seattle, Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, the U.S. Bank Foundation, UW Autism Center, Weill Music Institute, Wells Fargo Foundation, the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation and the Wyman Youth Trust.

About the Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Symphony is one of America's leading symphony orchestras and is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot since September 2011, the Symphony is heard from September through July by more than 500,000 people through live performances and radio broadcasts. It performs in one of the finest modern concert halls in the world — the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall — in downtown Seattle. Its extensive education and community engagement programs reach over 65,000 children and adults each year. The Seattle Symphony has a deep commitment to new music, commissioning many works by living composers each season. The orchestra has made nearly 150 recordings and has received two Grammy Awards, 21 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. In 2014 the Symphony launched its in-house recording label, Seattle Symphony Media.


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