BOSTON (CBS) — Thousands of school children sit in Symphony Hall–some for the first time–but this isn’t the stuffy concert they were probably expecting.

“I want them to be spontaneous and full of energy, and then we can really have some fun,” says conductor Thomas Wilkins.

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Thomas Wilkins conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s youth concerts. (WBZ-TV)

That’s not a problem. Without missing a beat, Wilkins mesmerizes the kids with lessons from the classical to the accessible, with some Hollywood movie magic along the way.

“Even in their favorite movie, an orchestra is playing in the background,” he says.

For eight years, Wilkins has lead these youth concerts for a week every spring. The concerts are geared toward students in grades 4-6.

Ten thousand kids, including two thousand from Boston Public Schools, learn musical manners, and how valuable they are in keeping music like this alive.

“If they don’t have access to these, they’ll never hear how special this music is and how applicable it is to their everyday lives,” Wilkins says. “Sometimes when we take ourselves too seriously, we get in the way of music’s ability to reach these kids.”

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Wilkins said he wants students to be spontaneous and full of energy. (WBZ-TV)

He ventures right into the audience to keep their attention, but also to deliver a message.

“This place and this orchestra is theirs, and it’s not just reserved for the grownups at night but it’s their Concert Hall and that’s their BSO,” he says.

Fourth-grader Kate Hamilton said she enjoyed her day at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

“I thought he was really cool and I like how he explained what we were listening to,” Hamilton said of Wilkins.

Students at Symphony Hall for the BSO’s Youth Concert Series. (WBZ-TV)

Kerry Glennon, a teacher at Josiah Quincy Elementary School, was pleased with her students’ reactions.

“It was great just looking around the hall and seeing the kids,” she said. “We had kids dancing in their seats and smiling, and it was a beautiful, wonderful experience.”

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Tickets for the youth concerts are $10, but students and teachers from the Boston Public Schools are invited for free with some advance reservations. For more information, visit

Paula Ebben