Education Through Music, Inc.

Education Through Music (ETM) was formed in 1991 with a mission to promote the use of music in inner-city schools and schools in disadvantaged areas, as a means of enhancing students' academic performance and general development. At ETM, we believe every child deserves a well-rounded education: one that includes music both as a subject in its own right and as a means of supporting learning in other areas. ETM makes music education a reality for thousands of children who would otherwise have limited or no exposure to the arts, uses music instruction to strengthen students' ability to learn in all areas, and works to build schools' capacity to sustain programs.
Mar 6, 2014

Gaining Confidence Through Songwriting

Students practice rhythms with hand bells.
Students practice rhythms with hand bells.

Dear Project Supporters:

          Students at our first-year partner schools are continuing to benefit from the materials and supplies funded by this project. With your help, music teachers can make their instruction more engaging and enriching for these students. ETM music teacher Erin Giacinto, at PS 42 in the Bronx, provides a glimpse of the wonderful things the students are doing thanks to your support. She writes:

          “Students in the 4th and 5th grade have recently started an anti-bullying program. We were spending a lot of time in the classroom working on chord progressions and playing accompaniments on classroom instruments…Some of the students got together during their recess time and began writing their own song, based off of what we had learned in music, about the harmful effects of bullying. [They] wrote their own original lyrics [to] a popular song using the chords that we learned.”

          The students went on to perform their original composition for Ms. Giacinto, and then the entire school during a morning student meeting. “The confidence that the students built just by knowing that they [wrote]… their own music”, Erin says, “and the courage it took to perform it in front of the whole school, made a big difference for some of the students in the group who are affected by bullying. I have seen these students grow so much from the confidence of being an independent musician.”

          Your support is making a lasting difference in the lives of all of our students. In addition to the 4th and 5th graders described by Ms. Giacinto, our younger students have also been enjoying their new music instruction. The ones pictured above are using some of their new classroom instruments as they prepare for their school’s winter concert. 

          Success at P.S. 42 and other first-year partner schools has been possible with your support. Yet, there are more students and schools we hope to reach. Won't you consider forwarding our project to a friend or colleague who you think might be interested in donating? Your support is greatly appreciated!

With sincere thanks,

The ETM Staff 

A student describes the joy of performing.
A student describes the joy of performing.

Links:

Feb 14, 2014

Music education helps kids reach their potential

April performing with PS 76
April performing with PS 76's band

"Music Inspires Me"

April* braves the cold, wintry conditions to endure a 45-minute commute from her home in the Bronx to attend LaGuardia Arts High School, where she is a freshman instrumentalist. Despite the weather, April is excited for school. She has her backpack, clarinet, and smile all visible as she boards the Manhattan-bound train. “I like the way music inspires people…and makes you smile from within,” April says, citing music’s presence in her daily routine as a source of happiness.
 
April’s love of music first began when she was a student at P.S. 76 in the Bronx, a school that before partnering with Education Through Music in 2005 had no music program for its students. Beginning as early as the 3rd grade, April thrived in the music classroom, taking quickly to musical concepts and showing uncommon skill. By 4th grade, April had landed one of the lead roles in her school’s musical production of The Castaways.
 
Prior to performing in the musical April struggled with stage-fright. She learned to channel her nerves and build confidence, however, with the help of her music teacher at the time, Ms. Jessica Parr: “The show Castaways helped me uncover that there is nothing to be afraid of, [you] just have to get out there and enjoy what you do.” That same year, April was selected to perform at the ETM Gala at the Waldorf Astoria, where she had another transformative experience that helped fuel her passion for music. It’s these experiences April attributes to “bringing out [her] personality” and inspiring her to join the school band and learn the clarinet.
 
By 5th grade April was excelling in all subjects as an honor student, which she credits to the skills and work ethic she was developing through her general music and elective band classes. “Music has helped me to focus more. I have to listen to other musicians when they play, follow along and make sure I’m playing the correct notes and at the right tempo. This experience helps me in the classroom to concentrate [regardless of the distractions around me] on what the teacher is instructing.” April has even incorporated musical elements into her study habits by developing techniques that make the experience of learning more fun: “When I’m studying vocabulary,” she says, “I sing out the words and it helps me to study better. I also play jazz music while I’m doing homework.”
 
Luckily, April was able to continue developing her clarinet skills by attending another ETM partner school in her community, M.S. 180—ETM’s first partner middle school in the Bronx. As an 8th grader April not only challenged herself musically, under the direction of her band instructor Mr. Kevin Heathwood, but also her peers, as the President of the Band. She describes holding this leadership position as “a rewarding experience” that helped her to build a close bond with her musical family.
 
During her final year at M.S. 180, April decided to take a chance and apply to LaGuardia Arts where she would have the opportunity to grow as a student-musician– and she was accepted! For her first semester, April studied sight singing and wind instrument courses. She loved how these classes offered a safe, constructive space for her to learn from her peers and gain greater feedback on technique and ensemble playing: “It has been great…I have learned a lot, and it’s been wonderful being surrounded by so much talent,” April says of her high school experience so far. April looks forward to taking music theory next semester and joining an extracurricular activity next year once she has better adjusted to her commute from the Bronx.

Education Through Music promotes the use of music education to help students reach their fullest potential in school and life. We are so proud of April – and congratulate her and her family on a successful academic career. April is a testament to the power of music education, and exemplifies our hope of providing students with the tools they need to grow to be thoughtful, creative and engaged leaders and members of their community.

If you enjoyed reading April's story we ask that you share it with your friends and colleagues to continue to help us promote music education in inner-New York City schools.

*The student’s name was changed to protect her privacy. 

April was President of the Band at partner MS 180
April was President of the Band at partner MS 180

Links:

Dec 6, 2013

The Flute Player

ETM students are preparing for the winter concerts
ETM students are preparing for the winter concerts

Some students put on a “tough” act as a way of coping with growing up in tough environments. But early exposure to the arts can often allow these students to express their emotions, reflect on and cope with their environments in a creative, constructive manner. For those students whose first exposure to a true arts curriculum begins later in their schooling it can be difficult to shed their tough exteriors to truly engage in the learning process. An activity like singing in class, for instance, is viewed as “uncool” and resisted at great lengths. 

By fifth grade, Kevin* had earned a reputation as his school’s “tough, cool guy.”  When music class was first offered at Kevin’s school, PS 72, he used it as an opportunity to act out.  Kevin had a lot of influence on his peers who followed his lead and misbehaved in music class. This was until Kevin started the current school year, when he became eligible to join the school’s band ensemble.

Kevin was surprisingly quick to sign up for band and to select the flute as his instrument. Kevin has been a natural at the flute and looks forward to music class and band ensemble every week. In band, especially, Kevin is in his element. He is often seen helping his classmates and enjoying the experience of learning and playing music. His music teacher, Morgan Ferris, sees him for both general music and band, and has noted that Kevin’s positive attitude has transferred over into the general music class. Kevin is now more focused and well-behaved. After building a positive rapport with Kevin through band, Ms. Ferris has noticed that Kevin no longer disrupts, and is instead a more active participant in both settings.

While playing the flute has come naturally to Kevin, he also works to improve his ability and knowledge. Kevin has used many of his lunch periods to rehearse and practice on his flute instead of getting into trouble. Not only has the flute kept Kevin from detention, but it has also increased his motivation and overall engagement in school. This has been a nice, noticed change for Kevin’s other academic teachers who have utilized his new-found interest in band to focus his attention in their classes as well. Some teachers have even used extra time at the end of class to allow Kevin to discuss his love of music or to perform for his classmates as a reward for being a productive member of the classroom.

And while Kevin has not made a complete turnaround (as he still shies away from singing), he’s shown great maturity and growth. Kevin has also become interested in using his “cool” guy image to now set a good example for others. Currently, he volunteers with Ms. Ferris to help her teach the Kindergarten classes “I’m a Little Snow Flake” in preparation for the school’s upcoming winter concert.

Kevin and his peers at PS 72, and across ETM’s 28 partner schools, are eagerly preparing for their winter concerts and are ready to showcase what they’ve learned. Without your help and support these students would not have the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and confidence through music. Please consider sharing this story with friends and colleagues who might be interested in supporting this project this holiday season, to help ETM provide students with a well-rounded education all year long. Your support can make a difference! 

*The student’s name was changed to protect his identity and privacy. 

Links:

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