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Music opens doors for young people in poverty – and schools hold the key

Atlanta Public Schools recently decided to give their elementary (primary) schools the option to cut band and orchestra programs. The writers of the article (who run the Atlanta Music Project) say argue that this is the perfect age to engage kids in instrumental music education because that is when they have the most time and are more open to trying new things, and what’s more, they have research to prove that it particularly helps low income children.

This is particularly relevant for Atlanta Public Schools where 76 percent of children qualify for free and reduced price meals.

“The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth,” a 2012 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that 48 percent of at-risk students who had low arts involvement attended college, while 71 percent of at-risk students who intensive arts involvement attended college. In other words, exposure to the arts and music education is good, but arts and music education with some level of rigor is even better and yields stronger outcomes.

But among all the surveys and statisics, there is another important aspect of music education that is often overlooked, they say: which is that music education requires young people to invest in themselves. And when people see children working hard to better themselves, it inspires the community to invest in them. The authors know this because as co-founders of the Atlanta Music Project, they have seen their students’ musical development open doors for them that will be life-changing.

The Atlanta Music Project was founded five years ago to provide intensive, tuition ­free, music education to underserved youth  in their neighborhood. The programme builds after­school youth orchestras and choirs in communities where intensive music instruction is not typically available.

But they say that, while the Atlanta Music Project serves two hundred or so students, they – like hubs in the UK – will never be able to reach as many children as schools can .

They say “Our experience in the field of music education in this city tells us that the Atlanta community wants to help children develop into great citizens. And it helps when the community sees children doing great things to improve their own lives. Let us remember that when we eliminate or reduce instrumental music education we minimize the chances for kids to show their best selves and inspire those around them to action.”

The original post (see link below) was written by Dantes Rameau, co-founder and executive director of the Atlanta Music Project based in Georgia, USA, and Aisha Bowden, co-founder and director of AMPlify, the choral program of the Atlanta Music Project.

SOURCE:
Atlanta Music Project: http://www.atlantamusicproject.org/news-features/music-education-gives-students-a-chance-to-learn-real-world-skills/

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