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New Directions for Outreach – What is Early Music?

We define Early Music as music spanning from the Medieval through early Classical periods, performed on historically informed instruments. However, what might be obvious to our patrons is not so much the case with the general public! “Early Music’ evokes different notions.

We have heard people ask if we are referring to… • music played in the morning • music geared toward early childhood, or • music utilized for early intervention, perhaps for the special needs population…an idea which truly resonated with our board

With this frequent occurrence of ‘mistaken identity’, we decided that in addition to our practice of extending outreach to schools which are underserved in their arts programs, we would place particular focus on collaborating with schools and facilities which serve the special needs population. Individuals along the Autism Spectrum, young and old, benefit greatly from exposure to music, and generally derive tremendous pleasure from listening to music of all kinds. What better way to help the community given the growing percentage in this population.

Our first engagement in this endeavor came this past Spring when we were invited to participate in the annual Spring event at The Monarch Institute here in Houston, a state-of-the arts facility for ASD individuals. The Monarch attendees served dinner which they prepared in their lovely kitchen for their family members and friends, during which time local musicians entertained the crowd by performing early music selections. The evening was a huge success, as Monarch ‘learners’, as they are called, as well as their guests, were delighted by the music, and Monarch extended an invitation to Houston Early Music to come back regularly. In turn, the Monarch learners will be given the opportunity to usher at upcoming concerts, so that HEM audiences might learn about the wonderful work carried out at Monarch.

Similarly, in additional community involvement, local artists also performed at a donor appreciation dinner for Gracewood Home for Mothers – a beautiful facility in Spring Branch which provides home, hope, and healing for mothers who have hit a bump in the road. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the early music pieces performed, and in turn, mothers from Gracewood will have a chance to share their stories during one of HEM’s upcoming concerts. These collaborative events with other groups provides the opportunity for both audiences to learn about totally different areas of the non-profit world in Houston, and provide support for each other. These types of endeavors will be a priority for Houston Early Music going forward.

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