An After-School Music Program
Nutrition for the Mind and Soul
Music for Life is community based organization that provides music education and mentoring programs to youth living in financially challenged or dysfunctional families. We also provide music equipment to partner organizations who have a qualified music program but not the equipment necessary for low income students to participate. We offer three programs; After-School Guitar Program, Band & Orchestra Program and STEM Guitar Project.
After School Guitar Program –This program currently serves over 800 youth annually. We go into low income neighborhoods and set up free group lessons thus removing both the transportation and cost barriers that these youth face. We loan them a guitar and teach them how to play as well as how to read music and basic music theory. Once students learn to play the guitar we award them their instrument; they continue with our program to learn more and to help new students entering the program.
Classes are once a week for one hour. Beginner lessons are for novices; intermediate lessons are geared to the student's skills. Whether or not classes are conducted at a location is dependent on teacher and student availability. Equipment is provided for all classes; classes are free to all eligible students. Classes consist of up to 10 students and are conducted throughout the school year. A few locations also offer summer classes.
We partner with other organizations that serve the same demographic; especially ones that do not offer music and need more program to attract additional members and/or retain the ones they have. Our partners include Boys and Girls Clubs, Community Centers, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, low income housing complexes, special needs schools and Government foster care agencies. Student selection is done by our volunteers in cooperation with our partners. Students are screened to make sure they are serious about learning; understand the rules and our program; and have a parent or guardian who’ll support and encourage them to learn.
Band & Orchestra Program – This program helps low income youth stay in their middle or high school’s band or orchestra program. Elementary school children receive a free introduction to music but when they proceed on to middle and high school they are faced with expenses they cannot afford. Increasingly public schools are cutting as well as imposing fees and/or participation requirements on music programs. The result is a disproportionately higher rate of truancy and school dropouts among low income youth; actions that lead to long-term consequences such as substance abuse, welfare dependency and prison. We combat this downward trend by providing qualifying students an instrument, private lessons if required, and subsidize their participation fees; i.e. band camp, uniforms, competitions, trips, etc. We enrolled 20 students at one High School and three Middle Schools during the 2016-2017 school year. We plan to serve more students and schools during the 2017-2018 school year.
STEM Guitar Project – This program introduces low income youth who respond more to vocational learning experiences to STEM education. It was developed under a National Science Foundation grant by faculty at Sinclair Community College in Dayton Ohio. Music for Life facilitates program implementation in the metropolitan DC area. Students are taught the math and physics involved in the design and operation of an electric guitar; they then apply this knowledge by building their own instrument. They design the guitar body using a CAD system, cut it out on a CNC machine, assemble and finish the instrument. Music for Life covers the school’s cost of the unique tool kit required and the guitar material costs for low income students. We also provide all class materials and teacher training as needed. We enrolled 28 students at one high school during the 2016-2017 school year. We plan to serve more students and schools during the 2017-2018 school year.