ATTENTION, TEACHERS: Music Memory classroom materials are produced by Mighty Music Publishing, led by Mollie Tower, founder of the modern Music Memory program. Check out their sampler video at


Empowering students through music

From the orchestra’s early years performing free concerts and open dress rehearsals for inner-city school children at Riverside Church, education and outreach have been a central outgrowth of the orchestra’s founding mission. In 1999 this commitment found ultimate expression in the launching of Music Memory, Riverside Symphony’s widely admired educational program, which grew from a handful of schools to serve thousands of third-through sixth-grade New York City public school children citywide annually.

Bill Ritter of ABC News joins us at the Citywide Finals.

Music Memory familiarizes young people with sixteen timeless musical works each school year through an innovative classroom learning program led by music teachers specially trained at Riverside Symphony professional development workshops. The program culminates every spring in the spectacular Music Memory Citywide Finals, a “Name-That-Tune” event held at a major concert venue, which puts the children in the spotlight. Competing for highest honors on behalf of their schools, the students, in five-member teams, show off their amazing musical knowledge by identifying the names and composers of the works they have studied based on musical excerpts—some as obscure as a single chord—played live, onstage by Riverside Symphony.

"Music Memory is a gift. And not the kind that you can hold, or open, but the kind that will benefit you for life and that you will treasure in your heart forever." —LUCY, GRADE 4

"A wonderful year of magnificent music. I had one class graduate this year that did three years of Music Memory and loved every minute. They left PS 193 knowing 48 pieces of music!" —MUSIC TEACHER,

"I listened to 'Estancia' by Ginastera with my brother. We made dances out of it. I like that it has hemiolas. This experience has brought me a lot of joy. My family loves the pieces." —GABRIEL, GRADE 4

"I have nothing but praise for Music Memory. It is one of the highlights of my year. I love teaching it!"

"[Music Memory] helps people to love music and music sometimes changes people’s feelings. I found that this year my life was happier than all the other years ... Listening to music in Music Memory really helps.” —GUAN, GRADE 4

"When they heard the pieces played live, their faces were priceless, they were so excited ... we all learned a great deal this school year."

Leading arts educators cite Music Memory’s positive influence on students and teachers alike, and the New York City Department of Education’s Director of Music recommends it for use throughout the city’s school system. Major support for the program is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Walt Disney Company. Additional funding comes from TD Bank and the Consolidated Edison Company of New York.

If you are thinking about Music Memory for your school or would like further information on this program, please contact Katherine Hamilton at 212-864-4197.

  • October 14: Professional Development Workshop #1 (for teachers)
    225 W. 99th St., 8:30 to 11:30am
  • December 9: Professional Development Workshop #2 (for teachers)
    225 W. 99th St., 8:30 to 11:30am
  • March 10: Professional Development Workshop #3 (for teachers)
    225 W. 99th St., 8:30 to 11:30am
  • May 18: Music Memory Citywide Finals (for students and teachers)
    Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU, 10:30am to 12:30pm

Music Memory culminates every spring at the Citywide Finals, a contest that recalls the popular “Name-That-Tune” show from early television days. Cheered on by parents and classmates, students are given the opportunity to show off their amazing listening and recognition skills, identifying the pieces and the composers of the sixteen works they have studied throughout the year from musical fragments as brief as a single chord played onstage by Riverside Symphony. Their innate love of music, kindled in them throughout the school year on this unique musical voyage, is fired by the excitement of the competition. This year’s competition takes place on Thursday morning, May 18, 2017 at NYU’s Skirball Center.

For a look behind the scenes at the competition, check out this video from the 2012 Finals:

This video features Riverside Symphony, with Music Director and Conductor George Rothman and Moderator Mollie Tower. For those without YouTube access, please click here.

Major support for this program has been provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and The Walt Disney Company. Additional support in past years has been provided by New York City Council Members Vincent J. Gentile, Steven Matteo, Helen Rosenthal, Christine C. Quinn, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Lewis A. Fidler, and Debi Rose; the Consolidated Edison Company of New York; the Music Performance Fund and TD Bank.

Each school year, Riverside Symphony offers three Professional Development Workshops designed to help teachers maximize the effect of Music Memory in the classroom. Attendance at these workshops is free of charge, and at each workshop, teaching artist George Scharr will guide attendees through different pieces of music in the curriculum, demonstrating the effective use of materials in the Music Memory packet as well as classroom activities that complement these materials. All three workshops are accredited by the New York Department of Education and Riverside Symphony awards certificates to attendees for having participated. See the 2016–17 Music Memory Calendar for current workshop dates, and see below for photos from past workshops.

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Riverside Symphony

225 West 99th Street :: New York, NY 10025
P 212/864-4197 :: F 212/864-9795