Crescendo Orchestra Senior Project – Written by Nicole Faiola

Madeleine Robinson started working with Music Service Learning in conjunction with her senior honors capstone project at West Chester University of PA. Honors college members at WCU must work on a 150-hour personal project that fulfills a community need and includes a means of sustainability once the student graduates. Maddie, a music education major with a keyboard focus and love for orchestra, created her project to work with the Crescendo Orchestra. The Crescendo Orchestra, located in Phoenixville, PA,  provides free instruments and lessons to students. Each student in the Crescendo Orchestra receives free violins, lesson books, and group lessons on Tuesday-Friday after school. The program got its inspiration from El Sistema, a program from the 1970s in Venezuela.

Madeleine commented on the following about her project: “I’m working with the Crescendo Orchestra to create a partnership between the program and West Chester University. During this time of uncertainty, students from Crescendo Orchestra will be paired up with volunteers from WCU to learn the song “Perpetual Motion” with a backtrack. Each student will be recorded through Zoom, and a volunteer will compile each student video into a performance video. In the fall, volunteers will be going to Crescendo Orchestra, creating their own lesson plans and helping teach students in the program.”

Madeleine played violin through high school. She says, “my experience in orchestra classes was definitely one of the highlights of my education and helped me discover my passion for music!”

Music Service Learning has helped Madeleine get her project started this year and we are excited to see the outcome of her project in the future!

Crescendo Orchestra

Orchestra and General Music Online Enrichment Project – Written by Abigail Kramer 

Rosemary (Rosie) Wilson volunteered to work on a project submitted by her own high school orchestra teacher. This project had one main focus: student engagement. In the school district, students did not have mandatory work at this time, so many did not participate in class assignments. The teacher and Rosie brainstormed and curated content that would be of interest to the student community. Rosie worked diligently to think of ideas and activities aligned with their goal of engagement.

Rosie created a series of Rock ‘n’ Roll Worksheets entitled “Let’s Rock!”. She has a particular interest in the histories of Rock ‘n’ Roll and film music and has a desire to include them in the classroom. Rosie’s love of this subject encouraged her to create a more culturally relevant/engaging activity. Rosie commented the following about her awesome worksheets:

“There are four “worksheets” total and each explores a specific song by artists—The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, R. E. M., and U2— inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They include two small graphics specific to the song or band, primarily the instruments being used; this included the proper make of guitar utilized by the band. These worksheets feature links to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction of each group. This site allows students to explore the moment these groups were recognized for being the best at what they do. The worksheets also feature song breakdowns. The majority linked to a podcast on These podcasts feature almost entirely actual band members discuss their creative process and the creation of a specific song. Song Exploder did not have a podcast for The Beach Boys, however, so I utilized a video introduced to me in a History of Rock course. These ‘worksheets’ end with 2-3 questions prompting students to think about the aural maturation of Rock & Roll and the creative process.”

Rosie says despite her efforts, the engagement had not changed much by the time the project was closed. She noted: “The Scranton School District is considered an inner-city district and most if not all of these kids have more pressing responsibilities than work and activities they won’t be graded on”.  A few students interacted with what Rosie and her teacher had created, however, the priorities of students during this time had experienced a tilt once quarantine began. Rosie believes many students had more responsibilities thrust upon them, such as watching siblings and possibly becoming essential workers.

Rosie’s project shows the importance of thinking outside the box during this time where there is no seemingly right answer. Even though Rosie and her teacher did not experience much more participation, the students benefitted from their efforts and commitment to these projects. It is important at this time to recognize that the world has changed so much in the past few months. As teachers, we can try to adapt and support our students in all the ways we possibly can, but we need to remain knowledgeable about our students’ out-of-school lives and how that affects their participation. Rosie and her teacher really understood that. Students and teachers alike feel the weight of the world heavy on our shoulders during COVID-19, but with teachers like Rosie, the future is bright!

Rosie is a Music Education and Music History Major (on the Bb Clarinet) at West Chester University of PA. She will begin to serve as the President and D12 PCMEA representative at West Chester University this upcoming year.