Changing Lives Through Music Education: Two Inspiring Stories

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While budget cuts, large class sizes and equipment shortages are all common place amongst many music teachers in schools due to standardized testing squeezing music curricula, there are also still many success stories.

Today I wanted to share two exciting things happening in music education which are providing some amazing opportunities to some disadvantaged children in a huge way.

Just recently we’ve come across two amazing projects that currently taking place in the US and seem to be providing some AMAZING music education opportunities to children and teachers in disadvantaged schools.

Take a look at these and let us know what type of music education philanthropy organizations you prefer by using the comment box below:

Little Kids Rock
Little Kids Rock provides rock based music instruction for public school students who have been left behind in music education due to budget cuts. It’s a non-profit organization which provides free tuition, teacher training and instruments to disadvantaged public US schools (These are schools who have 50% or more of their students on the free or reduced lunch program).

One of the most inspiring parts of this program is that it connects students and gains funds from a host of high profile musicians and company leaders. Have a look at this media report below (just one of the many examples) highlighting Blues Legend, John Lee Hooker making a guest appearance at a school- making it an unforgettable experience and start to learning music.

In this program, it not about getting children to play a virtuoso performance – it’s about giving each child access to an experience they would never have the chance to otherwise by supporting schools and teachers in getting music program up and running for no initial cost. To many students it’s a kickstart to a life long interest in music. Research also suggests that the big spin off for schools is that overall attendance increases as a result of programs such as Little Kids Rock.

Here’s what teachers who have used the program have to say about it:

Crescendo Detroit Summer Program 2013

The founder of this cause is Damien Crutcher – a now successful conductor and music educator who lives and grew up in Detroit, one of the poorest cities in the US. He really knows first hand that the implications this has on the children of Detroit mean that often they get lead down the path of drug abuse, violence and crime. As the Board of Director of the project, Richard Mukamal states in the video:
“ Without this program, kids in the neighbourhood will have nothing to do except hang around- and that’s trouble!”

This program is much bigger that just about learning music, rather music is used as a catalyst for change and opportunity. As documented in recent American research (May 2011 Presidents Committee on the Arts and Humanities) research suggested:

“When students participate in the arts they are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher GPA/SAT scores, and demonstrate a 56 percent improvement in spatial-temporal IQ scores. They show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12, are more engaged and cooperative with teachers and peers, and are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas.”

In addition to the day program at the summer camp, children are supplied with homemade meals every day, healthy snacks and they take home a backpack full of food for the weekends. Children are also introduced to literacy skills and a social worker is on hand to deal with any issues that come up dealing with conflict resolution, anger management and other character building skills.

In the inspirational words of Richard Mukamal on the video:
” Something magical happens when you give a child a musical instrument and teach them to play in an ensemble or the classic form of dance in a troupe. The rigorous discipline of intense music preparation creates an almost ideal community for them (the children). One in which they listen and learn; cooperate and collaborate; they learn to count and read and listen and play all at once. They have a chance to create something beautiful and to tell a story through sound or motion. They begin to feel that what they do is important to the success of the ensemble. They see what success looks like and learn the meaning of persistence- self control, self respect and hard work. Without realising it, the discipline of intense music and dance transforms their character – and that is why Crescendo Detroit exists'”

A Win Win!!
Now I know that these are great causes and you’re probably thinking that I’m writing this because I want you to contribute towards them. Well don’t worry because that’s not what I’m suggesting.

Here’s why:
I know that if you’re a music teacher (like I was), then I know you already contribute a great deal of time, energy, dedication and your own money to your own students and communities just like these projects listed above.

I also know that music teaching can deprive teachers from the time and energy it takes to learn more: to continue to keep inspired throughout the years and in the ability to continue to come up with new ideas that work day in- day out!

Here at the Fun Music Company this month, we’re really excited to help teachers and big philanthropy projects such as these two inspiring stories in a single win- win eventlater this month.

Teachers need inspiration. Often,  the best ideas always come from the most inspiring mentors, coaches and thought leaders in the world- and we want to share that with everyone.
Here at the Fun Music Company this month we’re really excited to be hosting our first Virtual Music Education Conference and already so many AMAZING speakers have already committed their time to talk about their experiences and share their ideas.

However, this conference is a little different from traditional conferences. The main reason why it’s different is because you won’t need to travel to get there. In this conference you simply log in with your home computer and you’ll have access to the best educators in our industry from around the world for a fraction of the cost of travelling to a conventional conference. This means no more Saturday conferences or having to spend thousands in getting there- you simply log in when you want and you’ll be able to listen to a libray of high quality interviews,so you can learn from these inspirational music education leaders.

One of the great spin-off effects from a virtual conference such as this is that the organizers (thats us- The Fun Music Company) don’t need to cover costs of hiring venues. This not only brings the costs down dramatically for participants, but it also means that money can be put back into music education causes such as Little Kids Rock, El Sistema inspired causes such as Crescendo Detroit and also helping every day music teachers get access to much needed resources through programs such as Donors Choose and Go Fund Me.

Throughout this conference, half of the proceeds will go towards music education related causes. This means that collectively we will all be putting the money back into disadvantaged schools and programs to help build better communities. So just by taking the step to learn more about teaching yourself, you’ll be able to give back to an area that you feel passionate about- music education without having to dip into your own pockets time and time again.

Now I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a win win for everyone!!

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