Give In-School Music Education to NYC Youth

Jun 10, 2013

Achieving Academic Success Through Music

The following story was written as told by ETM music teacher, Brittany Kolodziej who teaches orchestra at ETM partner schools PS 68 and MS 529 in the Bronx. PS 68, a K-5 school, has partnered with ETM since 1997, during which time it has established its general music program for all students and an orchestra program which serves grades 4-5. 
From the first day Jamal* entered my cello class I knew there was something special about him. Jamal was anxious to learn and came to class and rehearsals throughout the fall and winter season with wide eyes and a huge smile.
I'll never forget one day in November when I had Jamal’s class for the last period of the day on a Friday afternoon: he came into class almost running, unpacked, and immediately began playing the blues on his cello. "Miss Kolodziej," he said, "I'm so glad it's time for cello class. I've had this music running through my head all day and now I finally get to let it out!" 
A few weeks later he began missing his lessons. His teacher informed me she was holding him because he "couldn't even write a sentence." She told me that his grades were so low in English Language Arts (ELA) that he could not afford to miss time in her classroom. I fought this battle and lost. Jamal, however, still came to morning orchestra rehearsals before school and even gave up some recess time to practice with me. He was determined to get his grades up so he could stay in orchestra. As time went on, Jamal showed me a few of his own music compositions. It seemed that composing music was also helping him to compose words, sentences, and paragraphs in his ELA class. During this time, he fell in love with Yo-Yo Ma’s music, and decided he was going to be a famous composer/cellist someday too. 

By the start of spring, Jamal showed me some of his school work and smiled when he told me that his grades were up. In orchestra, he never skipped a beat.
I almost cried, a few weeks ago, when he brought me an essay he wrote about what music meant to him. I could see his effort come through in his writing. It was evident that he wrote and re-wrote his story many, many times before giving it to me.  He wrote beautifully. I had seen where he was in the winter, and the improvement in his writing was astounding.
Jamal’s hard work in both cello class and ELA are paying off and he has been selected for an USDAN scholarship to attend a summer arts camp. His gift and passion for music has motivated him to rise above his challenges in ELA. He is one of the most gifted students in the orchestra and his musical abilities are top notch. I am so excited for what is in store for him.
*The student’s name was changed to protect his identity and privacy. 

Please consider sharing this story with friends and colleagues who might be interested in supporting this project to help ETM provide more students with sustained and quality music instruction. Your support can make a difference!  


May 20, 2013

Spring News from ETM

ETM student performers with MC Christine Baranski
ETM student performers with MC Christine Baranski

Students from across ETM’s 28 partner schools gave a marvelous performance at the 2013 ETM Children’s Benefit Gala, and captivated the nearly 500 guests in attendance.  Under the direction of ETM’s Director of Programs, Pete Pauliks, and accompanied by Gala honoree Richard Bernstein on piano, 80 choral and 60 ensemble students sang and performed two pieces. “Turn the World Around,” a folk song inspired by African culture with words and music by Harry Belafonte and Robert Freedman, showcased the students’ musical skills effortlessly.  The second piece performed, “Nella Fantasia”—Italian for “In My Fantasy”—beautifully captured the hope we share, as an organization, for our students. 

ETM music teachers reported that their student-participants were energized by the performance and were eager to continue practicing even after the event was over! Fortunately, between general music classes, ensemble and choral rehearsals students won’t have to wait too long for their next performance. Partner schools will be holding their spring concerts throughout the month of May, and over 700 students will perform at this year’s ETM Festival in early June at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheatre at Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan. It is guaranteed to be a day filled with inspiring performances!

If you would like to attend a student concert or the ETM Festival, contact ETM for more information at


Other recent developments for ETM’s New York City Partner School Program include the release of program evaluation finding from the 2011-2012 school year. Data was gathered through surveys and interviews with students, principals and parents and assessment tests. Highlighted findings include:

  • ETM instruction is positively associated with students’ musical knowledge and with students’ academic achievement in Math and English Language Arts.
  • Over 90% of partner school principals and classroom teachers rate the program as either “excellent” or “good.”
  • 79% of parents believe that ETM has increased the musical activities they share with their children.
  • The majority of partner school classroom teachers—75%—believe that music education impacts student learning.
  • ETM enhances students’ general development, especially in areas of confidence and creativity.

To read the full report, please visit

To read ETM’s success story narratives, please visit

In order to help cultivate school communities that value the arts, ETM needs your continued support. Please consider sharing this report, and the positive impact ETM is having at our partner schools, with others who might like to contribute to restoring music education in NYC schools. 


Feb 20, 2013

ETM Students Perform in Winter Concerts

Students engage in gleeful singing
Students engage in gleeful singing

For the past few months, ETM’s partner school students were busy preparing and performing in holiday and winter concerts. The students worked extremely hard to learn their repertoire, and also had fun, as one 8th-grade student noted in his concert reflection:  “One of the things I learned from this experience is that while working hard you can still have fun and enjoy yourself. I felt a sense of accomplishment and happiness because we were doing a great job, which was acknowledged and rewarded by the audience response; they gave loud applauses and cheers. Our conductor commended us for a job-well done.” 

Each January, ETM’s first-year band and orchestra students also make their debut performances. These petit performances offer parents, local officials and school communities an opportunity to hear students perform, while learning about the ensemble programs over juice and bagels; the event is called “Breakfast with the Band” or “Breakfast with the Orchestra.” This school year, ETM offers band at six partner schools and orchestra at six partner schools.

The Breakfast with the Orchestra at M.S. 529 in the Bronx was a celebratory event that drew many parents as well as a liaison from newly-elected Councilman Andy King’s office. The orchestra played a series of short pieces, finishing with a selection that demonstrated their understanding of blues progression. Parents snapped photos and recorded videos throughout the show, clapping and cheering for their kids.

In addition to the choral and instrumental concerts held on school grounds, students from partner school MS 180’s Special Education classes visited the Bartow Senior Center in the Bronx to share their holiday cheer. The students, who use xylophones and small percussion instruments in class as a learning technique, were eager to perform the songs and recite the poems they rehearsed with their music teacher, Leah Potteiger. According to MS 180 Principal Frank Uzzo "The students loved sharing their new found talent with the seniors. It made the holiday season special for them.”

We are so proud of all our partner school students for immersing themselves in the learning process to prepare for their concerts; their hard work truly shined through in the performances!

Please consider sharing our program with a friend or colleague to ensure that NYC students can continue to have these rewarding experiences through music, which help to build self-confidence and creativity in students.  

Students wear wintery accessories during concert
Students wear wintery accessories during concert
This student is all smiles after her performance
This student is all smiles after her performance
A student focuses before performing her next piece
A student focuses before performing her next piece
Students add choreography and holiday colors
Students add choreography and holiday colors
Co-op City Times Features ETM Students
Co-op City Times Features ETM Students


Nov 21, 2012

ETM Keeps the Music Playing at 28 NYC Schools

By the start of the 2012-13 school year, ETM added six new schools to our partner school program including St. Thomas the Apostle, the first ETM partnership in Queens. The ETM model now serves over 14,000 students in 28 elementary, middle and K-8 schools throughout New York City. ETM also introduced new co-curricular ensembles at two returning partner schools in the Bronx. The upcoming holiday concert season will be busier as M.S. 529 launched a string orchestra comprised of students from its 6th and 7th grades, while P.S. 169 added a 4th grade string orchestra.

This Fall, ETM partner schools have also had visits from music education supporters and practitioners including mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, Miss USA and cellist Olivia Culpo and country music star Dierks Bentley. These visits have helped motivate and engage students, while providing them with exposure to classical and country music genres. In particular in September, Mr. Bentley visited first-year partner school P.S. 103 in the Bronx. The CMA Foundation coordinated the visit with ETM and P.S. 103, through assistance from the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). The CMA Foundation not only sent Mr. Bentley as an ambassador of their program Keep the Music Playing, it also donated $20,000 to ETM to help purchase instruments and supplies for P.S. 103's music classrooms. Mr. Bentley performed for the entire 4th grade class, who sang along to his hit song “5150,” in the school gymnasium. He also visited 5th grade and 2nd grade music classes, who were eager to showcase their newly acquired music skills.

In thanks to the generosity of our supporters, ETM is able to focus on both strengthening and expanding our partner school program, while also providing important opportunities to reinforce and broaden students’ musical skills, knowledge and appreciation.   


Aug 28, 2012

Student Reflections

Thank you for supporting ETM's New York City Partner School Program!

During the 2011-12 school year, 13,000 children received music education at 25 ETM partner schools in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. That's every student at each partner school.  Students celebrated their achievements through end-year performances, including concerts at each school as well as the inaugural "ETM Festival" held in Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park and featuring over 700 students.

Your support is making a difference in children's lives. Teachers, parents and principals point to positive changes they see in children's motivation and focus, but why not hear it from the students themselves? The quotations below are just some of the feedback we received from our partner school students this spring and summer:

Kevin, Age 9:

"I love music, singing and playing instruments... My spring concert was about a song named ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat.’ We practiced, and practiced! Some of the song was hard to get. We had a lot of movement to do. We had to jump and everything. The concert itself was a success. The song made me feel fun...

"In conclusion, I feel like I accomplished something. I accomplished singing in front of a lot of people. At first, I was very scared but now, I am not scared anymore. Overall, this benefits me because I learned how to practice with my classmates as a team."

“Music taught me that I can do things I never thought of doing." --5th grade student, P.S. 72, Bronx

“The way I feel about music is happy… you can jump around and sing.” --1st grade student, ETM Partner School P.S. 43, Bronx

Thank you for playing a part in making our project possible.

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Project Leader

Katherine Damkohler

Executive Director
New York, NY United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Give In-School Music Education to NYC Youth