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.
Dec 6, 2013

The Flute Player

ETM's students prepare for their 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 of choice. 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 so that he has become more focused and well-behaved in her general music class. 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 (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. 


Nov 11, 2013

A Day in Mr. Coolbach's Classroom

The music room at P.S. 359
The music room at P.S. 359

Dear Project Supporters:

We’re two months into the new school year, and your support of this project has helped us purchase instruments and supplies essential for engaging the children in our newest programs. P.S. 359 in the Bronx is just one example of what you are making possible at our seven first-year partner schools:

ETM music teacher Mark Phillips at P.S. 359 in the Bronx told a few stories about his music classroom that we would like to share. P.S. 359 is a newer elementary school serving 225 students in grades PreK – 2. ETM began its partnership with the school because of the principal’s enthusiasm for creating a well-rounded curriculum for her students.  She envisioned a school community that would “foster responsible and productive citizens with strong critical thinking and academic skills via a rigorous and thought-provoking curriculum delivered by passionate and motivated teachers,” and she contacted ETM to ask us to partner with her school.

The school year has been off to a wonderful start. Mr. Phillips teaches all 225 students at the school, including English language learners and special needs students, and the music classroom, thanks to your support, has been outfitted with all sorts of supplies and age-appropriate instruments! ETM purchased and delivered a colorful floor rug, a boombox and an assortment of picture books (that enhance the musical repertoire and help integrate literacy skills into the music curriculum). We also filled the classroom with hand bells, shakers, claves, bongo drums, glockenspiels, and xylophones! The most recent, and much anticipated, addition to the classroom was a keyboard.

Mr. Phillips explained that he likes to name the items in his room in order to give the room a personality, and to make the students feel more connected to the classroom and what they are learning. His ukulele, for example, is called “Chip.”  “I have a ‘teaching assistant’ named 'Mr. Coolbach,’” said Mr. Phillips. “He is a portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach wearing sunglasses that I pin up on the wall in a new spot each week so that the kids have to find him. I tell students that he watches the class…he has become part of the family in our room.”

The students have loved engaging with instruments for the first time. When the new keyboard arrived, his students were so excited that one called out, “Mr. Phillips, we have to come up with a name for the keyboard, too!” The boombox and keyboard are used in every lesson; students enjoy singing the “Hello Rock” at the start of each class with Mr. Phillips’ accompaniment on the keyboard. They also often do dance warm-ups using the boombox. His students have been focusing on how to keep a steady beat using the hand percussion, such as shakers and claves, and have used the pitched hand bells to explore high and low sounds. His classes have also used the book We're Going on a Bear Hunt along with the accompanying sound track in order to solidify their steady beat work. Going forward, the students will prepare for the winter concert in December. They will continue to use the instruments and repertoire ETM provided to build their skills and meet the benchmarks on each grade level. And they still need to agree upon a name for the keyboard!

Thank you, again, to everyone who has donated to this project to buy instruments and supplies for ETM’s new partner schools. As you can see from the pictures, our music classrooms are colorful and interactive, motivating students to participate and learn. Supporters, what do you think of this music classroom?


With sincere thanks,

The ETM Staff

Our project success at P.S. 359 has been possible in thanks to your support. Yet, our work at these newest partner schools is just beginning and requires continued support. Please consider forwarding our project to a friend or colleague who you think might be interested in donating. Thank you.

Hand percussion and xylophones
Hand percussion and xylophones
The latest addition to the classroom
The latest addition to the classroom
Claves, shakers, bongos, and more!
Claves, shakers, bongos, and more!
Mr. Coolbach watching over the music room
Mr. Coolbach watching over the music room


Sep 6, 2013

ETM Music Teachers Prepare For School Year with PD

Teachers getting into the spirit of ETM-led PD
Teachers getting into the spirit of ETM-led PD

September 9th is the first day of school in New York City and our teachers have been busy preparing for the school year. In mid-August, Education Through Music (ETM) gathered music teachers from across its network to participate in the ETM Academy—its revamped and extended professional development (PD) workshops—in Oberlin, OH. At the ETM Academy, teachers attended sessions on Common Core and music education integration, classroom management, lesson planning and curriculum development, and music teaching methodologies. In addition, there were specialized sessions held, which were led by esteemed practitioners in the field on conducting ensembles, teaching guitar in middle school and incorporating world drumming into lessons.

Teachers were energized by the professional development sessions and are eager to apply these lessons in their respective classrooms, as reflected in their survey responses:

“I learned so much about the craft of teaching - not only through the programs/sessions offered, but also through being surrounding by so many fantastic and inspiring teachers 24 hours a day....Even whilst socializing in off time, there was constant talking of strategies and the trading of ideas. Wonderful and inspiring week!

“This experience has been SO valuable. The things we have experienced were very applicable and pertinent to our everyday teaching lives.”

“The retreat atmosphere was particularly helpful in creating a bonded community of learners and teachers.”

“The resources we have been given and the discussions that were had were very helpful.”

We wish our music teachers well – and look forward to another successful school year! As always, ETM plans to keep you informed of our partner school program’s progress. We hope you will consider forwarding this report to friends, family or colleagues interested in supporting music education. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.  


The ETM Academy
The ETM Academy


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