I was a band geek! I played clarinet, bass clarinet, and even contra-bass clarinet and I was even in the color guard of a marching band. My experience with band gave me an appreciation for music as well as some great friendships.
Recent studies show that students who take part in the arts are more successful on standardized tests and achieve higher grades in school. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions and rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. A report in 2006 by Collegeboard states that students of music continue to outperform their non-arts peers on the SATs.
Some schools can’t afford to offer music and arts programs to their students. One such school was Stevens Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. Only 10% of students in seventh grade at Stevens Middle School scored at or above a proficient level in Communication Arts on the standardized Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) in 2009. When compared with the state statistic of 51%, the school decided something needed to be done to help their students. Stevens Middle School was looking for an after school program to engage students in enrichment activities, and Making Music Matters was born.
Co-founder Ken Zheng states, “I have played violin for eight years, and it has enriched my life greatly. I wanted to share that experience with other students. This project is vital because it provides a music enrichment after school program to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity.”
Making Music Matters believes music is an integral part of a balanced education, so they established a program to teach students violin. A lesson plans based on the Essential Elements for Strings book was developed by a group of students. That was also mixed with activities and games that they created.
Making Music Matters offers opportunities for high school and college students to teach younger students music in inner-city schools. Each week each student’s progress is measured with weekly quizzes.
Recently, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra agreed to support and fund the Making Music Matters effort to spread the joy of music. So far, they have donated supplies and agreed to provide students free tickets to Symphony Concerts as a field trip. Magic Rosin donated cakes of rosin to the students at Stevens Middle School. Organizations such as Education Exchange Corps and RR Music Labs in the St. Louis area have provided the organization advice about how to best interact with the St. Louis Public School District.
How can you help?
- The organization is currently recruiting teen violin instructors. Teachers are selected based on their leadership skills and mastery of violin. These student instructors will volunteer for an hour once a week for the entire semester and meet weekly to discuss the program. Student instructors will gain the important skills of leadership, responsibility, teamwork, problem-solving, real-world communication skills, and conflict management. The instructors will develop their own quizzes throughout the semester for the violinists and will monitor the progress of the students.
- Volunteers are needed to represent the program at booths and local fairs, distributing fliers at schools and coffee shops, promote involvement in the program, and write articles in school newspapers and church newsletters.
Making Music Matters is also looking to expand their program to other schools in St. Louis, Missouri area. According to co-founder Zheng, “By next year, we plan to establish a similar after school program in a different school. In the future, we are also looking to include other instruments.”
For those in the St. Louis area, tonight, Thursday, December 9, there will be a concert at the school to showcase the progress of students at Stevens Middle School. They will display what the students learned in one semester of weekly one-hour after school lessons.