Academy of Music

Investing in the Arts, our Community, and their Future


Discover Music

The Discover Music Series has been an integral part of the Abilene Philharmonic’s season since 1955. Held annually at the Abilene Convention Center in October, this series reaches approximately 6,500 area students in grades 3rd through 5th – including public, private and home-school. In collaboration with local elementary music educators, our Music Director designs a student-friendly program that is accompanied by a teacher’s curriculum book aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) guidelines. For these early music students, Discover Music lays a foundation for music education and an appreciation of classical music. It also helps boost music programs in schools and inspires the future generation of musicians, music educators, concert goers, and patrons of the Philharmonic. Read more>>


Educational Outreach

Staying true to the mission of the Philharmonic, we continually look to create valuable music education opportunities for the students of Abilene. Being the classical music authority in the region, it is our responsibility to ensure the survival of this great art form and cultivate a passion within these students. Some of these activities include:

Masterclasses– in partnership with local public, private, home schools, and universities, Philharmonic musicians and/or guest artists perform where students can engage with the artists, ask questions, and learn time tested practices from industry professionals. These topics can include instrument specific instruction, how to practice, how to win an audition, what it means to be an arts administrator, and many other things related to the orchestra field.





Coaching sessions– similar to a private lesson, students will receive specific instrument instruction by a Philharmonic musician or guest artist in a group classroom setting. A student or a small student ensemble will perform a piece and then be critiqued by the instructor(s). The topics covered can include but are not limited to technique, intonation, ensemble balance and presence, and overall musical themes. These sessions are also beneficial to the students in the room that might not be performing because the topics covered can be applied to their own musicianship, even if they play a different instrument.



Side by side performances– create a once in a lifetime opportunity for local music students to perform with a professional symphony orchestra. Students will engage in a professional rehearsal and performance while sharing a stand with a musician of their respective instrument. The individualized instruction in this practical setting is an extremely valuable experience, and in some instances a lifelong bond is created between the musician and student. Typically at the end of a school semester,
this performance is the culmination of hard work and determination by the
students and teachers as the Philharmonic does not reprogram or reduce the
difficulty of the music for this performance.

Instrument Petting Zoo

In collaboration with the CALF Festival, the Philharmonic hosts an annual instrument Petting Zoo where children of all ages get to experience various instruments for the first time. Over 1,000 children each year get to touch, play, and hear these instruments demonstrated by local musicians. This event sparks an interest in young children who may have otherwise never known the different instruments, the instrument parts, or the different sounds of each instrument.

Teacher Resources

Sometimes music education opportunities come in the form of assisting struggling music programs in our local county schools.  From new sheet music to professional development needs, we look to be a resource and partner with music educators in the area. We will also look to create an instrument donation program where people can donate their old instruments that are no longer being used and we will get them into the hands of deserving students. Read more>>



The Abilene Philharmonic looks to utilize technology to create innovative and unique music education opportunities for our area students. With a decline in professional musicians living in Abilene, we must find an economical way for these music students to connect with our musicians. We believe the connection between a musician and a student can spark a passion for classical music and the determination to possibly become a musician themselves. Using high-speed internet, a projector, and skype, we plan to create remote educational outreach opportunities. This would give us the ability to connect our area students with our musicians at any time of the year. We will also look to add a high-definition screen and speakers to make it a truly worthwhile experience.

In addition, we will maximize this technology by showing high-quality, live streaming performances of professional symphony orchestras from all over the globe. We hope this will create a better culture of attending symphony orchestra concerts in addition to our seven performances during the season.


Educational and Community Outreach

In an effort to engage the demographic of our community who are not making it into the concert hall, we plan to host smaller concerts that will be free to the public and staged at various locations around downtown Abilene. From soloist to quintets, we hope to utilize these smaller groups to reach different members of our community, create awareness and exposure of the Philharmonic, and generate an excitement for classical music.

Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition

The Nelda Hodges Young Artist Competition was established by the Abilene Philharmonic to help support outstanding young musicians in the Abilene area. The bi-annual competition is open to Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, String, and Piano students between the ages of 12-18 that live in Texas School Regions 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, and have not graduated high school. Scholarship awards are: First Place $1,500, Second Place $1,000, Third Place $750. Apply for this year’s Young Artist Scholarship! Read more>>


If you’d like to donate to the Abilene Philharmonic’s education outreach programs click here: