EducationWatch: BSO Launches Academy School Initiative

EducationWatch: BSO Launches Academy School Initiative

Program aims to highlight role of arts in education
Laurel Fishman

In October the Boston Symphony Orchestra launched a music education pilot program, the BSO Academy School Initiative, at the Thomas A. Edison School in Brighton, Mass. The partnership between the orchestra and Boston public schools is providing the entire Edison student body with an integrated music curriculum, access to BSO educational programs and interaction with professional musicians. BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe said the program's goal is to "inspire a far-reaching appreciation of the critical role the arts play in creating a full-spectrum educational experience."

Proceeds from 10-time GRAMMY-winner T Bone Burnett's The Speaking Clock Revue concerts, held in Boston and New York in October 2010, will benefit music and arts education in U.S. public schools through the Participant Foundation. Fellow GRAMMY winners Elvis Costello, Elton John and Leon Russell, among others, performed at the concerts. Burnett will be honored by The Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing during GRAMMY Week.

Parents of Connecticut's Darien High School Band members are campaigning to raise $50,000 to replace the school's older instruments. Last fall Scott C. Shuler, president of MENC: The National Association for Music Education, commended the school's music program as "a model of how music teachers can help today's students find paths they are willing to walk into their adult lives in music."

In related Connecticut news, Horns For Kids, a nonprofit organization supporting deserving school music programs throughout the state, awarded 65 musical instruments to 54 Connecticut school music programs in November. Since 2003, more than 300 Connecticut schools have received instrument awards from H4K, and plans are underway for more donations in spring 2011.

Students of Dr. Norman W. Crisp Elementary School in Nashua, N.H., received $20,000 in new musical instruments in October. The donation was made through the Fidelity FutureStage program, created and funded by Fidelity Investments to support music programs in public schools. Fidelity Investments also provided more than $25,000 worth of instruments to the Ron Russell Middle School in Portland, Ore.

Through Friends Of Music, a group of local Atlantic City, N.J., businesspeople and residents have contributed approximately $30,000 per year to help students in grades 4–8 learn to play a musical instrument in public schools. A significant portion of the grants is fortifying the school district's strings program, including the purchase of 20 new instruments.

The Marjorie Hayes Memorial Music Fund was recently established through the Eureka Schools Foundation in California's Eureka Union School District. The nonprofit foundation raises funds for district enrichment programs, including music education, band and choir. For the 2010–2011 school year, parents and the local business community donated more than $500,000 through the foundation. Hayes, who died last June, worked for more than 50 years as a teacher in the district.

Musicorp, a distributor and manufacturer of musical instruments, lighting products and accessories, announced winners for its second annual "Passion & Learning For Aspiring Youth" instrument essay contest in November. A group of six Charleston, S.C.-based middle school students were awarded musical instruments and opportunities to obtain instruction.

Through December, Buffalo, N.Y.-based Music is Art held an instrument drive at Starbucks locations in New York's Erie and Chautauqua counties. The drive collected new and used musical instruments, which will be restored and distributed to local schools. Founded by the Goo Goo Dolls' Robby Takac, MiA has collected and placed more than $200,000 in musical instruments in schools to date.

Brown University alumnus Sebastian Ruth's Community MusicWorks program was honored at the White House with a National Arts And Humanities Youth Programs Award in October. In Providence, R.I., Ruth has been offering free music lessons to disadvantaged children since 1997. Originating with a $10,000 grant, MusicWorks has grown to include a $750,000 annual budget.

On Nov. 20 the twin daughters of Nat "King" Cole, Timolin and Casey, honored their father and raised funds for music education at the Nat King Cole Generation Hope's Stardust Affair in Boca Raton, Fla. The event was held in conjunction with the Nat King Cole Generation Hope, a nonprofit created to fund music education in south Florida. The organization serves children of all backgrounds who have the greatest need and fewest resources, and promotes children's growth and development through the study, practice and performance of music.

AXE Music's One Night Only concert was held in Chicago on Oct. 18 featuring rock band O.A.R., and raised funds for Music Unites, a nonprofit organization that supports music education in inner city schools. Proceeds are benefiting programs at Chicago's Benito Huarez Community Academy, supporting private lessons and musical instruments for 42 freshman students.

How Music Works: The Science And Psychology Of Beautiful Sounds, From Beethoven To The Beatles And Beyond, a new book from physicist/composer John Powell, holds appeal for music lovers of all stripes. Powell explores how musicians create music and how people listen to it, explaining technical aspects in a reader-friendly, entertaining manner. A CD of examples and exercises illustrating Powell's concepts is included with the book.

(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for, and she is an advocate for the benefits of music making, music listening, music education, music therapy and music-and-the-brain research.)


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