St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Digital Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra lets students experience the teamwork needed to bring orchestral music to life. 

This blog is sponsored by NAfME Corporate member St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. 

Commissioned by the British Ministry of Education in 1946, Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (YPG) has become a timeless introduction to orchestral music. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) has created a digital resource that combines a full-length performance of YPG with an all-access backstage pass to meet the incredible team who work behind the scenes. Your students will experience the teamwork needed to bring a concert to life through backstage footage and short interviews that supplement the concert.

Created in partnership with Really Inventive Stuff, the SLSO performs Britten’s classic work for young audiences at historic Powell Hall under the direction of Norman Huynh, with narrator Michael Boudewyns (recorded on November 2–3, 2022). Mr. Boudewyns, founder of Really Inventive Stuff, takes on the persona of the lovable yet nutty Professor Nigel Taproot as he narrates the work and conducts pre- and post-concert interviews with the team members who help make the concert possible. From a music librarian to a stagehand to the Director of Operations and even the conductor, Professor Taproot learns that remarkable things happen when people with diverse talents come together around a common goal!

Conductor Norman Huynh with narrator Michael Boudewyns as Professor Taproot reading a book with excitement. The character Professor Taproot wears an academic cap and gown while pointing at the book as they stand backstage.

Conductor Norman Huynh and Professor Taproot (of Really Inventive Stuff) backstage comparing notes before the concert.

The SLSO’s YPG is a 45-minute digital concert experience for students in grades 3–5. An accompanying Teacher Guide provides arts-integrated lessons that any teacher can easily implement. Use it with your students or leave it as a simple, ready-made sub plan. With the video and the Teacher Guide accessible from the SLSO’s website, YPG is an excellent option for classrooms that cannot travel to a concert hall for live music or anyone curious about how a concert gets put together.

The word symphony means “harmonious” because, in a symphony, different parts come together to make an agreeable whole. With YPG, students will explore two musical forms. In Theme and Variations, they’ll hear the unique timbres of each instrument of the woodwind, string, brass, and percussion families. Then, in the fugue finale, they’ll experience the power created when different instruments (and the musicians who play them) work together to create a shared, harmonious sound. Along the way, your students may find an instrument that speaks to them.

A short registration form gives you free access to the SLSO’s digital performance of Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and lesson plans filled with engaging classroom activities. On-demand access is available until July 31, 2024.

Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

The SLSO makes several other digital programs available to teachers on its website for free, including Digital Tiny Tunes: The Lion and the Mouse and Giraffes Can’t Dance for Pre-K and Kindergarten students, and Peter and the Wolf and SLSO SoundLab for elementary school students. More than 3,000 teachers from 49 states and nine countries used SLSO digital programs in their classrooms last school year. Mary O. from New Hampshire says, “I have been impressed with what the SLSO has instituted for students and teachers. It has been well thought out and developmentally appropriate. I have already recommended it to other music teachers.”

To learn more, visit

Did this blog spur new ideas for your music program? Share them on Amplify! Interested in reprinting this article? Please review the reprint guidelines.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

April 2, 2024


  • Ensembles
  • Repertoire


April 2, 2024. © National Association for Music Education (

Music Inclusion Hub from elementary to college. Your digital hub for culturally responsive, intersectional, mixed media music resources.
Messiah University. Learn more. Earn your master's in music conducting or music education. Online. Flexible. Affordable.
Gator Cases new Largo series. Image of high school girl sitting next to music cases in front of green lockers.