BOSTON — Exposing students to the arts is considered part of a well-rounded education.
Often when money gets tight those programs are among the first to face cuts.
Urban school districts can have a tough time keeping art programs going even in good budgetary times.
A foundation called The Boston Music Project is filling the void – and filling many schools with the sound of music.
Students line up outside the Josiah Quincy Elementary School an hour and a half before the first bell rings to learn how to play an instrument.
170 students participate in the program which represents about a third of the school’s total enrollment.
4th grader Jay Lung plays the cello and doesn’t mind getting up early to get to school to practice. He told Boston 25 he’s been coming to school early since K-1 and added confidently that now “I’m pretty good.”
“We want to ensure that every single child in Boston has the opportunity to make music regardless of any financial limitations,” said Chris Schroeder of the Boston Music Project.
The program has now expanded to 15 sites across the city serving 1,100 students.
The classes are run by professional musicians and teachers.
Schroeder created this program when he realized how few students in Boston were getting exposed to something that enriched his life.
“We were working with Boston Public Schools and we had identified 51 out of 125 schools that didn’t have a music teacher,” said Schroeder said. “The work that we’re doing is trying to open a door, trying to create opportunities for young people all throughout the city, regardless of the town, regardless of the spaces they have, regardless of their communities, to experience the transformative joy and power that music education provides.”
Cynthia Soo Hoo is the principal of the Quincy School. “As educators, we don’t want to focus on just academics. We want to look at the whole child.”
She loves seeing the kids so enthusiastic about music and says that carries over to the classrooms. “They are more focused on their work and we see that as a positive benefit to the students who are participating in the program in the morning.”
3rd grader Briella Baptiste is mastering the bass and dreaming big in the process.
“I’d like to play bass with my friend Willow and she plays bass too and we could make a career together. . .blues, jazz, rock.”
That’s music to Schroeder’s ear, but he says that’s actually not the goal of this program.
“Not every child that leaves the Boston Music Project is going to aspire to be a professional musician and that’s OK. The goal for us is creating this transformative experience for a young person here in this community, where they can express themselves freely.”
In all, the Quincy School now has seven orchestras practicing before school starts.
The Orchestra made up of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders has been selected to play the National Anthem before a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on May 14th.
More information about joining the program and supporting it is available at https://www.bostonmusicproject.org/
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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