Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids Program Expands to New Song Academy
The Rouse Company Foundation commits $50,000 to support the expansion
Baltimore, Md. (February 11, 2011) - The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has expanded its OrchKids program to serve students at New Song Academy, made possible in part by a two-year grant of $50,000 from The Rouse Company Foundation to support the program launch and continued development at New Song Academy.
Inspired by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop's artistic leadership and community vision, OrchKids is a year-round during and after school program that provides music education, instruments, tutoring and mentorship to youth in Baltimore City at no cost to participants or the school. Launched in Fall 2008, the program served 30 first grade students from Harriet Tubman Elementary School in its pilot year (2008-2009). The school's closure at the end of the school year brought the program and the majority of the students enrolled in the program to OrchKids' new home, Lockerman Bundy Elementary School (LBES), also located in West Baltimore. Now in its third year of operation and second consecutive year at LBES in West Baltimore, the program has grown to serve 220 pre-K through third grade students.
The addition of New Song Academy marks a significant first-step in achieving the BSO's vision of expanding OrchKids into more city schools, and eventually into more neighborhoods. At New Song, all 37 Pre-K through Kindergarten students (ages 3 - 5) will be introduced to the program through music classes incorporated into the school day. Continued progression of these and the addition of more students in successive years will see a modified after-school program implemented at New Song as a "satellite" version of the LBES "hub".
New Song Academy is an independently run, K-8 charter school within the Baltimore City Public School System. Located in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore, an area faced with persistent challenges of poverty, crime, drug use, unemployment and substandard housing, the Academy is committed to "developing and empowering community leaders by providing year-round educational opportunities for children and youth and their families."
Thanks to prior funding from The Rouse Company Foundation, the BSO began a substantive, collaborative music education partnership with New Song Academy in the 2009-2010 school year. Activities included a BSO on the GO composition/performance residency and peer mentoring/skill sharing with the OrchKids Bucket Band. New Song students also attended an age-appropriate and inspiring Midweek Education Concert at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, completely free of charge.
"New Song [Academy]'s educational philosophy, culture of creativity, connectedness within the community and existing involvement with the BSO made it the ideal partner for OrchKids and the first choice in the expansion process," said BSO President and CEO Paul Meecham. "We are grateful that the community has embraced OrchKids and that the generosity of its supporters, such as The Rouse Company Foundation, has made possible its continued growth."
"I have always believed that music has the power to change lives and build communities," says Music Director Marin Alsop. "When we launched OrchKids three years ago, none of us could have imagined how successful it would be. In just three years, we have grown the program from 30 to nearly 300 students. Energetic kindergartners tapping on rhythm sticks are today focused and poised third graders, playing orchestral concerts for their community and mentoring the new kindergartners. I am thrilled about OrchKids' growth and look forward to the day when every child has access to this kind of opportunity. I feel fortunate to live and work in Baltimore, a community that cares deeply about its future leaders."
OrchKids is a year-round during and after school music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods. Under Music Director Marin Alsop's artistic leadership and direction, OrchKids is a cornerstone of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's efforts to expand the Orchestra's relevance within the City's broad and diverse community. In collaboration with several community partners, OrchKids provides music education, instruments and mentorship at no cost to Baltimore's neediest youngsters. The program is inspired by Venezuela's El Sistema, the music program that in 30 years has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in that country's most impoverished areas. Like El Sistema, OrchKids is intended primarily to
address the most pervasive social challenges affecting underserved youth, using music to cultivate fundamental life skills such as self-expression, cooperative learning, discipline and creativity. With assistance from The Family League of Baltimore City, the BSO has implemented several assessment tools to track if OrchKids participants are achieving social, academic and musical outcomes.
The 2010-2011 school year marks OrchKids third year of operation and second consecutive year at Lockerman Bundy Elementary School (LBES) in West Baltimore, where it has grown to serve 220 pre-K through third graders (the program began with just 30 first graders in 2008). Standard school-year curriculum is both intensive and interactive, comprising up to 16 hours per child per week of in-school musicianship classes, daily healthy meals and after-school academic tutoring, social enrichment, music instruction and rehearsal. Additional opportunities are given for public performance, community outreach, cultural field trips and a four-week summer session. Participation is free and parents actively register their child by signing a commitment to program rules and expected outcomes.