Explore the information below to find answers to many commonly asked questions about the CSO School Concerts

What are the programs for this year’s CSO School Concerts?

Information about FREE tickets and transportation as part of the celebration of the 100th season of the CSO’s concert series for children. Learn More

The current season’s school concert schedule and repertoire is posted on the Negaunee Music Institute’s website under Schools & Teachers.

Information on Once Upon a Symphony® concerts, recommended for Pre-K

Information on the CSO School Concerts, recommended for students in grades K–12

Information on Education Open Rehearsals, recommended for students in grades 9–12


What programs are appropriate for my students?

The Negaunee Music Institute offers age-appropriate concerts for students from preschool through high school. 

  • Once Upon a Symphony concerts, featuring a small ensemble of CSO musicians, are held in Buntrock Hall at Symphony Center and are ideal for Pre-K students, ages 3 to 5.

  • CSO School Concerts, featuring the full orchestra in Orchestra Hall, are ideal for grades K through 8 and occasionally for high school students. Specific age recommendations are listed next to each program.

  • Education Open Rehearsals, intended for students in grades 9–12 with an interest in music,offerunique access to the world-class Chicago Symphony Orchestra as they work with some of today’s most sought-after guest conductors and soloists. Each Education Open Rehearsal lasts approximately 2.5 hours and features pieces to be performed that same week as part of the CSO main series. Following each rehearsal, students are invited to participate in a question and answer session with the conductor, guest artist or select members of the CSO. Capacity is limited and reservations are required. Requests are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.


What is the ticket availability for this season’s School Concert Series?

To check the latest concert availability, please call the School Concert Hotline at 312-294-3076 for a recorded message.

If you are interested in attending any school concert, please complete and submit the CSO School Concerts Ticket Order Form.


How do I make changes to my order (add/subtract/cancel tickets)?

All requests to change an existing CSO School Concert order must be submitted in writing. You may mail changes to ATTN: Box Office, 220 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60604.


Will I be mailed information leading up to my concert date? What educational materials do you provide for classroom use?

A Group Admission Ticket will be mailed to your group with preparatory materials before your concert date. Group tickets will only be issued once full payment has been received. If you arrive on performance day without your Group Ticket, the Front of House staff will have an updated Admittance List to confirm your group and allow your entrance.

The Institute creates specialized preparatory materials specifically for students and teachers, including a student program book, a Teacher’s Guide with lesson plans, and recordings of musical excerpts. These materials are mailed to groups who are attending school concerts free of charge. Materials are typically mailed out five to six weeks before each concert date. If you do not receive your materials within three weeks of a concert, please contact us

The CSO Docent Program prepares students for an enjoyable and engaging experience at all CSO school concerts. Using the free preparatory materials produced by the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO, students will explore the repertoire to be performed on the selected concert, learn relevant music fundamentals and discuss appropriate concert etiquette. Docent visits are free! More information


How do I submit requests for special needs?

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association offers special accommodations at CSO School Concerts for students with learning disabilities and physical, auditory and visual limitations. Additionally, the CSO occasionally has resources to accommodate schools serving students with significant financial needs. Please complete the Comp Ticket Request form (pdf).  Provide information about the type of need(s) that your students have and return it with your Ticket Order form via mail to ATTN: Box Office, 220 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60604 or email it to educationconcerts@cso.org.


I’d like information on picking up and dropping off school groups attending School concerts.

Students can be dropped off at one of the following locations:

  • On Michigan Avenue in front of Orchestra Hall
  • On Adams Street between Michigan and Wabash Avenues in the north curb lane   (Adams is one-way going west)
  • South of Jackson Boulevard on Michigan Avenue

Upon arrival at Symphony Center a staff member or usher will greet your group. Please look for the nearest staff member if your group is in need of instruction.

IMPORTANT: To ensure that an entire group will be seated together, groups must wait until all members are present before being seated by the ushers.

Pick-up after the concert: During the last 15 minutes of each concert, buses may stand at the locations listed below. Buses may not wait in these areas for the entire duration of the concert. We apologize for any inconvenience. School groups should meet their buses at one of these locations:

  • On Monroe Street east of Michigan Avenue on both sides of the street

  • On Congress Parkway east of Michigan Avenue in the south horseshoe lanes and on the east/west lanes between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive

Tips for easy travel:

  • In order to avoid last-minute difficulties, please arrange postconcert pick-up points before the concert.

  • We ask that you clearly mark your buses for quick and easy identification.

  • Please follow the guidance of the Chicago Police Department when dropping off and picking up students.


Where is the best parking for buses or cars?

For buses:
After dropping off students at Symphony Center, drivers can park buses in one of the following city lots:

420 S. Franklin Street

1100 S. Canal Street

631 W. Kinzie Street

These lots are free of charge. Additional parking is available at the Museum Campus lot, approximately two miles south of Symphony Center, for a fee of $20 per bus.

For cars: While the CSO does not have its own parking lot, parking for cars is available at Grant Park South Garage (located underground on Michigan Ave in front of Symphony Center).


Is there an area in Symphony Center for children to eat their lunches?  If not, is there any space nearby available?

No, Symphony Center does not have a designated place for group dining. On warm concert days, the South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago, located directly across the street from Symphony Center on Michigan Avenue, has a great seating area and is available for public use.


Other questions?

Contact Institute Education Concerts