Give In-School Music Education to NYC Youth

by Education Through Music, Inc.

Happy Spring from ETM! Our partner school students have been hard at work mastering new music skills and becoming better learners. Your support has helped our partner school program provide quality, weekly music instruction to 20,000 students and has served as an investment in a brighter future for them. What better way to celebrate spring than to share with you the story of one student’s fresh start!

Music class helped Jackson, a 5th grader at P.S. 169 in the Bronx, to deal with loss and turn over a new leaf. Jackson had established a reputation as a happy, well-behaved student with a passion for music. His ETM music teacher, Ms. Gonzalez, described him as a “wonderful singer and cellist, a talented rapper, and all around musician.” But over winter break, Jackson experienced a personal loss in his home life when his father had to move back to his native country. Jackson was very upset over his father’s departure, and started acting out at school. However, there was one place where he was not acting out: music class. Ms. Gonzalez noticed that, “Music class is the one place where Jackson acts like the happy Jackson I’ve known since last year.” Unfortunately, because of his poor behavior in other areas of school, Jackson was removed from the orchestra for two weeks. His music teacher and assistant principal then developed a plan to allow Jackson back into orchestra on the condition that he improve his behavior in his other classes “[Because] Jackson loves orchestra and music, he is trying his hardest to be the model student he was before,” reveals Ms. Gonzalez. Music is keeping Jackson engaged with school and giving him the determination he needs to turn his behavior and attitude around. 

His remarkable improvement was illustrated recently after Ms. Gonzalez finished a unit on hip-hop. Jackson and four of his classmates decided to start a hip-hop club that would meet during lunch. Forty-six 5th-graders have signed up for the club -- over half of the entire 5th grade at P.S. 169! The students are writing their own raps, composing beats, and choreographing dances together twice a week. Jackson is exercising leadership skills and participating in a positive activity. Ms. Gonzalez shared, “Without music, Jackson would be lost. Music is keeping him safe, secure, and giving him a healthy outlet for his emotions. I am happy to have Jackson in my class, and will be sad to see him move onto middle school next year.” The student who was once considered difficult and troubled has now become a leader and inspiration to his peers because of music education.

Education Through Music’s partner school program supports students’ social and emotional development. Many other students are benefiting from their music instruction just like Jackson through an increase in their self-esteem, self-confidence, and motivation for school. Jackson’s story is just one example of what children can accomplish when music is a part of their school routine. Thank you for changing the lives of our students! Help us promote music education in inner-city schools by sharing this report with your friends and family. Let them know the impact their donation can have on deserving students like Jackson!

Students enjoy a guitar lesson!
Students enjoy a guitar lesson!


A cellist poses before performing
A cellist poses before performing

Your support is giving new and rewarding opportunities to inner-city children throughout New York. Only a month has passed since the New Year—and our students have already impressed and inspired us with what they’ve accomplished! Partner schools held Breakfast with the Band/Orchestra concerts in January, giving beginning ensemble students a chance to showcase their new skills. After just a few months of practicing—many of these students had no prior instrumental experience—the ensembles played with confidence and professionalism for their friends and families.

One ETM teacher, who teaches both general music and string orchestra, took a moment to reflect on how much one of her students (a fifth grader this year) has matured since picking up the viola.

“Ramon’s mother told me one day that she has constantly tried to get Ramon into different after school activities, such a swimming, basketball and art classes, but nothing ever really stuck with him,” she writes.     

“Last year, Ramon began playing the viola with me [through ETM’s program]. He fell in love with the instrument and playing in an ensemble. Ramon’s mother let me know that playing the viola is all Ramon ever wants to do. He practices almost every night, he looks up violists on [YouTube] to watch and listen to and he is always talking about music. Ramon is one of the best violists in my group. I can tell that the practicing had paid off. Ramon was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship to [a] summer music program last summer, where he learned more about how to play the viola from professional strings players. His technique has grown since the summer. Ramon is currently looking for middle schools that have an orchestra program and is looking for a private teacher.

 “He is friendly, kind and absolutely loves music! I can always count on Ramon to not only be a great musician, but a good helper and a leader during all music classes.

“I am very proud of all that Ramon has accomplished in the short year and a half that I have known him.”

Playing the viola has helped Ramon find focus and passion. And thanks to your support, Education Through Music is giving thousands more students in the New York City area the same kinds of opportunities. As always, thank you!

March is “Music In Our Schools Month,” a time to celebrate comprehensive and sequential music education nationwide. Show your support for ETM by forwarding this report to a friend or family member—they’ll be eager to make a difference, for Ramon and for all our students!

Onstage at the ETM Festival last summer
Onstage at the ETM Festival last summer


Singing for Darius Rucker and Little Big Town
Singing for Darius Rucker and Little Big Town

With the fall semester underway, ETM’s partner school students have been hard at work learning new skills (and having fun!) in their music classes and ensembles. Your support has set these students up for a rewarding and successful year to come!

Students have had access to several exciting musical opportunities since you last heard from us. In early September, a group of partner school students performed for country stars Darius Rucker and Little Big Town at the Country Music Awards announcements in Times Square. Singing Rucker’s hit song “Wagon Wheel,” the students left their audience impressed and delighted by the performance.

With your help, ETM has expanded in-school programs this fall, reaching more students than ever with our core general music programs. We were also able to expand enrichment activities, and provide students with more ways to practice and enjoy making music. After-school choral ensembles for grades 4-5 and 7-8 are being offered in 28 of our partner schools, and band and orchestra ensembles in 18 schools. These activities give interested students a deeper experience of what it’s like to rehearse and perform as a group. Music teachers recruited students for the electives during September and October, and we’re looking forward to their debut performances this winter!

ETM’s partner school program has grown tremendously this school year. Your support has helped ETM to extend its reach to 20,000 students in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—an increase of 5,000 students from last year. Your commitment to children’s music education makes this kind of progress possible. So thank you! If you would like to visit one of our schools, to see a class or a concert, please just ask.

Share your enthusiasm for ETM by forwarding this report to friends or family members. Help them make a difference, too! 

With thanks,

The ETM Staff

This drummer keeps a steady beat!
This drummer keeps a steady beat!


All smiles at the ETM Summer Music Academy
All smiles at the ETM Summer Music Academy

“From the second I walk into the orchestra room for morning practice, [music] motivates and excites me. It helps me get ready for the rest of the day. I love music, and music class is my favorite because I can have fun, express myself and learn.”

               -Derek,* fourth-grade student at P.S. 68 in the Bronx

Happy summer from ETM! The “lazy days” of summer may be upon us, but many ETM students have been hard at work sharpening their music skills at ETM’s second annual Summer Music Academy. Over 60 students attended this year’s Academy, held at partner school M.S. 529 in the Bronx. Besides participating in ensembles, Academy students got the chance to take on fun, new musical challenges—including a Broadway-style performance and an eclectic musical grab bag. What a great way to keep up the momentum for music education over the summer months!

As we gear up to head back to school this fall, let’s take a look at how your donations have helped ETM continue to grow. The past year was a productive and rewarding one for our partner school students. Every child in our 28 partner schools received regular music instruction, and at 13 of those schools, students like Derek participated in supplementary band or string orchestra programs. Students showcased their skills in holiday and year-end concerts, heard from visiting performers like Peter Cincotti and the “Time for Three” string trio, and performed at the Bronx Parade and other community events. We’re always impressed by what our students accomplish. Thank you for making it possible!

At ETM, we believe music education helps students achieve more in and out of the classroom. For Derek, music is a vehicle for self-confidence and self-expression, as well as a way to boost his academic skills:

“I love music because it helps build my confidence. The confidence I have in music helps me, not just while I’m performing, but in everything I do. Music helps me to concentrate more, especially in math, and gives me the confidence to keep moving forward even when I’m struggling.”

Many ETM students share experiences like Derek’s—and parents and teachers have taken note. According to program evaluation data from 2013-2014, 97% of classroom teachers report that ETM positively impacts students’ self-esteem, and 97% also think the program improves students’ creativity. Principals report that parents have embraced the program and are proud of their children’s achievements. And the benefits outlast the school year. ETM instruction can foster a lifelong appreciation for music, as it did for Derek: “I continue to learn and grow as a musician because I know that music will always be a part of my life,” he writes.

These inspiring results are only possible because of the enthusiastic support of donors like you. You can share your passion for ETM’s work by forwarding this report to friends or family members. Let them know how they can make a difference!

With sincere thanks,

The ETM Staff

*Name has been changed to protect the student’s privacy.

Strumming onstage at a community performance
Strumming onstage at a community performance
Summer Music Academy flutists
Summer Music Academy flutists


Singers perform at the 2014 Children
Singers perform at the 2014 Children's Gala

“I feel a sense of accomplishment when a specific part of my music gives me trouble and I finally get it right…I am always learning and finding out new ways to be better than I already am…”     –Raven*, Partner School Student

We at ETM thank you so much for your past support! Throughout this school year, students like Raven have attended weekly music classes, and participated in holiday concerts and community performances, while receiving the quality music education they deserve. The ETM music teacher at P.S./M.S. 7, Jason Atkinson, for example, provides a glimpse of how the students have responded to the program you are supporting. He writes: 

It was Monday morning and a class of fourth graders passed by me, asking, “We’ve got you this Friday, right?” Later that afternoon I saw another student who beamed, “See you Friday!” even though it was only Monday. Though I liked to think of myself as a good teacher, I knew that it was not me they were looking forward to seeing; it was the drums.

When the drums arrived, all bright and decorated, I stacked them in the corner of my room like a tower of color. When they were passed out, the sound was powerful and cathartic, washing away the day to day stress of life in East Harlem.

The best part about the drums has been that everyone was starting from the same level, which has been a great equalizer for the students. This was, I imagined, a welcome break for people who have just moved here from foreign countries, like Celine* who just moved here from Mexico, and would not talk in class, or express her opinion. 

As we worked through drum grooves, I saw her confidence grow. She was counting out rhythms a little more assuredly and hitting the patterns with a little more confidence. We have repeated these patterns again and again, making sure everyone really gets their part and, as we say, “locks deeply into the groove” As I said goodbye to my students last week, Celine put her away her drum, and came up to me and said, “See you next Friday.”

This type of hands-on learning has allowed students to develop their music skills, self-esteem and confidence. Now that the school year is coming to a close, teachers and students are gearing up for their end-year concerts, and for our third annual ETM Festival, to be held at Marcus Garvey Park in June. Your support has made a positive difference in the lives of our students, and if you are ever interested in visiting a school, feel free to contact our office for further details.

Thank you again for helping our kids to become better students, musicians, and learners!

Our music programs are reaching over 15,000 students during the 2013-14 school year, with plans to expand to reach even more children this fall. Please consider sharing our program with a friend or colleague to ensure that NYC students can continue to have these rewarding experiences through music.  


*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the student


Band students showcase their skills
Band students showcase their skills
Students prepare to step on stage
Students prepare to step on stage
Jazz band students entertain the audience
Jazz band students entertain the audience



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Organization Information

Education Through Music, Inc.

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Katherine Damkohler
Executive Director
New York, NY United States
$2,398 raised of $50,000 goal
46 donations
$47,602 to go
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