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Program Spotlight | SEL In Practice in Sibelius Orchestra

At BMP, we are committed to ensuring that every child has access to the opportunity to make incredible music with support and attention from exceptional teaching artists. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is one of the key components of the Boston Music Project Curriculum, implemented by BMP teaching artists through a variety of activities and lessons to promote confidence, collaboration, and community-building in our ensembles.

Our SEL Specialist and Beethoven Ensemble Director, Marlene Markard, is constantly at work brainstorming, creating, and planning new activities and strategies centered around the 5 Core Competencies of SEL — self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, relationship building skills, and responsible decision-making — to help students develop important life skills that can be applied in all areas of their lives.

This past week, our students in our Sibelius Orchestra participated in group activities that focused on defining and exploring empathy and perspective.

Sibelius Orchestra Director Bengisu Gokce shared more about one of the activities, “Walk A Minute in My Shoes” that was incorporated into rehearsals this week and some of the questions that she asked students during the activity.

First, Bengisu asked students what empathy is and how they would describe it.

Sibelius Orchestra students answering questions from the "Walk a Minute in My Shoes" activity.

To help define empathy, students explored examples of situations in which they would use it. Some examples they shared were:

"If [I] see a sad person, [I] would try to understand the reason why and try to help them."


"If a friend is crying, [I] would help them to calm down and share why they're crying."

Bengisu then gave the students sample scenarios to explore how they might empathize with others.

"If you used a wheelchair, how would you participate in the music class?"

They answered:

“I would use my arms!"

"I would use hand gestures."

"I would spin around with my wheelchair!”

"How would you participate in music if you had a noise sensitivity?"

They responded:

"I would use headphones to block out some of the noise."

Sibelius Orchestra Director Bengisu Gokce working with a student during a class activity.

Bengisu also shared more about how SEL skills play in to rehearsal on a daily basis:

"[My students are] very sweet and well-behaved, but we are still working on respecting whoever is speaking, asking questions, or giving the instructions. Sometimes they may interrupt while someone else is speaking or speak over the teacher or friends. What I always emphasize in class is to think about how it would feel if someone interrupted them while they were speaking and ask them if it would be respectful behavior.”


Interested in seeing more about how Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is incorporated into the Boston Music Project Curriculum? Check out our recent spotlight on our Rimsky Orchestra's SEL activities!

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