Spotlight on Nonprofits | Discover Music with Reno Phil |

Spotlight on Nonprofits | Discover Music with Reno Phil

By Evelyn Klatt
Reno Phil brass section plays at Artown.
Reno Phil

With a little imagination and some creativity, just about anything can become a musical instrument. Don’t believe it? Garden hoses, buckets, bowls and rubber bands are some of the everyday items our Discover Music groups transform into working musical instruments.

Discover Music is one of the Reno Phil’s very first music education programs. For more than 15 years, the program has now introduced tens of thousands of children in our community to the joys of making music. The Reno Phil believes that music education provides long-term community impact, by providing the students with the chance to develop life skills through the discipline of music. Discover Music introduces the children to classical music, musicians and instruments, effectively adding to their education, and helping them to become more well-rounded individuals.

Students are often filled with curiosity when they see our Discover Brass ensemble playing various lengths of garden hoses along with trumpets, trombones and a tuba. The hoses give the students a clear visual representation of the factors that determine pitch fluctuation of brass instruments. The shorter the hose, the higher the pitch. A primary goal of the Discover Music program is to tie the science of sound into the curriculum the students are already learning in the classroom.

The Reno Phil Discover Music program creates a rare opportunity for children to be up close to the creative process of music making,” said Heather Gallagher, Reno Phil’s Director of Education and Community Engagement. ”In these assemblies, professional musicians from the Reno Phil help students make cross-curricular connections between music and math with explorations about how sound is produced, music and history with background on the instruments and composers, and music and movement by having the students dance and clap along. The students and teachers love these assemblies!”

The Discover Music program ensembles consist of a violin duo, a percussion trio, a string quartet, and a brass quintet. The ensemble members are Reno Phil Orchestra professional musicians and several are university music teachers, as well as private music teachers. They contribute both their classical music expertise and educational skills. Approximately 20% of the professional musicians are participating in the program at any given time.

Paul Lenz, the Reno Phil’s principal trumpet player, has been part of the organization for over 30 years. As one of the founding members of Discover Music, he has certainly introduced his fair share of children to music.

“I always love the unbridled enthusiasm when Discover Brass plays Star Wars,” says Lenz. “It’s been the same reaction from the kids for 30 years now. Some things never change.”

Each year, an average of 10,000 students participate in Discover Music. Last year, 8,270 students in grades K-12 received performances; 6,371 of those were Title 1 At Risk students.

Performance priority is given to Title 1 At Risk schools and those who have not had a performance in the prior two years. Discover Music had 21 performances during the 2016-2017 school year. Of these, nine were designated Title 1 At-Risk schools and two were located outside the Washoe County School District in outlying rural areas, where music education is extremely limited.

With many school districts (including Washoe County) having to raise transportation fees, Discover Music has proven to be an effective method for schools to receive an orchestral experience and classical music education.

Discover Music is entirely funded by grants from Foundations. The Reno Phil has offered the service to the Washoe County School District free of charge for over 15 years. If you’d like to learn more about the Reno Phil’s music education programs, please visit