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The Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is a vibrant presence in the local community, generating impact beyond the concert hall.

The CSO delivers a growing suite of innovative programs that demonstrate the value of the arts in every facet of daily life, from education to community engagement, health and wellbeing.

These include Rediscovering Music, a leading initiative for people who have experienced hearing loss, Music and Memory, a pilot program for people living with dementia, and ensemble performances in hospitals, specialist schools and other contexts.

In 2019, CSO Community Programs reached over 4,000 people, across over 50 performances and events. CSO Community Programs are delivered free to participants with the generous support of partners and donors.

CSO Community Programs are supported by the ACT Government.

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I had expected to learn more on hearing impaired people’s ability to improve their impairment; but instead it delivered music to them. (It) was accomplished wonderfully. Utterly superb; great interaction. A rare treat.

Colin, Rediscovering Music participant

Rediscovering Music is a unique program devised and presented by the CSO that offers especially engineered, interactive chamber music concerts for people with hearing loss, and who usually use hearing aids or implants. Music can sound quite different through these devices and people often need some rehabilitation to start to enjoy music again.

Rediscovering Music engages participants with a small number of related instruments in a mini-concert. Listening skills are practised with the use of familiar music, enabling listeners to really appreciate the instruments and the music. The program is curated by a qualified audiologist to ensure that each concert is tailored to the specific needs of the audience and that the program delivers maximum benefits to all participants. CSO is honoured to be able to assist audiences with hearing loss connect to the music that so many of us take for granted.

Sue Daw scholarship

In 2023, the CSO will offer two instrumental music tuition scholarships to adults with hearing loss. The successful applicants will receive weekly 30-minute lessons with a CSO musician, free of charge, from July to November 2023. Instrumental options include violin, cello, double bass, percussion and harp. The CSO will facilitate rental instruments where required and cover the cost of instrument hire for the duration of the scholarship.

Scholarship options in 2023 include:

  • Violin with Michelle Higgs
  • Cello with Samuel Payne
  • Double Bass with Isabella Brown
  • Percussion with Veronica Bailey
  • Harp with Rowan Phemister

Download application form [PDF 487KB]

Applications close COB Friday 19 May 2023.

For more information, or to submit an application, email

Sue Daw OAM has supported the CSO for many years and played a key role in establishing the Rediscovering Music program for people with hearing loss. She joined the Canberra branch of Better Hearing Australia in 1994 and went on to lead the branch from 1999 to 2018. In 2009, Sue was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to people with a hearing impairment.




Music in My School caters for teachers with any level of music teaching experience and supports them to develop their skills and deliver well structured music learning activities.

Dr Anita Collins, award-winning music educator

Music in My School began as an inquiry-based, live performance experience, developed by Dr Anita Collins and presented by Ginninderry and Icon Water, with curriculum aligned teaching notes written by Dr Eloise Fisher and Nicola Bartasek. Our aim in Music in My School is to share the joy of music with children and teachers, knowing that quality musical education is associated with a myriad of benefits for academic, social, and personal development.

The Music in My School – Time Traveller program is focused on one piece of music: Paganini’s Caprice No. 24, opus 1. The program explores this piece through different variations, exploring the central element of rhythm along with other musical concepts. For each variation, we ‘time travel’ to a period in musical history – Medieval, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century.

The CSO has produced extended Music in My School – Time Traveller lesson packs, with additional support from Ginninderry and in consultation with Dr Collins and Elizabeth Phingst. These teaching materials are designed to be used by both specialist music teachers and generalist primary school teachers.

Each focus element includes:

  • A summary of the musical activities: a quick reminder or inspiration.
  • Detailed, step-by-step lesson plans for each musical activity to support teaching.

Access downloadable Music in My School lesson plans via the CSO Magazine online




When the musicians are present I notice how painters are able to lose themselves— the rhythm guides their movement with the paintbrush across the paper—colours are vibrant.

Cheryl, Painting with Parkinson’s facilitator

Painting with Parkinson’s is recognised internationally as one of the most effective art therapy programs for people with Parkinson’s disease. It pairs musicians with painters in the serene settings of the National Botanic Gardens, and together they have formed a cohesive and powerful body of artwork. Painting with Parkinson’s has become a profoundly rewarding relationship between artists and musicians resulting in a positive impact on many people living with the disease. It has allowed participants to express themselves through art, in some cases for the first time. CSO musicians collaborate with Painting with Parkinson’s artists at regular sessions once a month



The HeartStrings initiative creates opportunities for members of the community experiencing financial hardship, social isolation or other challenges to enjoy live orchestral music.

With the generous support of the ACT Government, partners and supporters, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra donates tickets to community organisations and charities to provide to individuals and families in need.

We welcome donations to the HeartStrings initiative.

Donate to HeartStrings

For more information about HeartStrings, contact the CSO:
02 6247 9191 /