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Our Achieving Through Music program supports at-risk children through therapeutic music intervention, typically using percussion circles. The program lowers incidence of youth violence and improves academic performance. In 2009 MUST served ten Achieving Through Music program sites in San Francisco and Alameda Counties.
A music therapist or teaching artist trained in therapeutic music intervention leads the class. Children learn to play multicultural instruments, including Djembe and Tubano drums, Agogo bells, tambourines, maracas, and toms.
Artists use music to teach students to focus and channel their physical energy in a positive way, rather than acting out in violence or disrupting class. Each student has an opportunity to lead the group and all students learn how to respect the leader and each other. Students learn to lead and follow, developing positive leadership and cooperative teamwork skills.
We are planting music programs in schools and community centers serving our most underserved youth, demonstrating how making music can help improve self-esteem by transforming loss, anger and alienation into personal growth and inner discipline. Students learn self-expression, cooperation, altruism and bankable music skills, as well as respect for teachers and mentors. The long-term goal of the program is to reduce violence and other at-risk behaviors among youth and to improve academic performance, school attendance, and life skills.
In 2001, Music In Schools Today began a four year study at James Lick Middle School to assess the impact of Achieving Through Music. The research conducted found that the program had a profoundly positive impact on childrens' lives:
|Achieving Through Music Students||Students not in the program|
|Grade Average||Rose from 74.3 to 77.9||Dropped from 74.1 to 70.8|
|Behavior||All students maintained or improved citizenship marks||The majority of students exhibited a drop in citizenship marks|
"I've been moved from high school to high school because of my behavior, and I was never given music. I don't go to school, and now I'm in here. I would go to school for music."
"Glide and Music in Schools Today have had a long-standing relationship. Glide has benefited greatly from the placement of music teachers in our after school program… The children always eagerly gather in circle to get ready to make some noise on the drums… In these days in which funding for the arts is scarce, working with MUST to fund the musical component of our After School Program here at Glide Family, Youth and Child Care Center is truly a gift."
We are writing this letter in support of Music in Schools Today (MuST)'s Achieving through Music program, which offers Therapeutic Music Intervention to San Francisco's inner-city youth. The program combines facilitated drumming and music with social studies, science, math and language arts academics. It is based on the state and national education standards. MuST provides this research-based program, which helps prevent violent and high-risk behaviors, to our San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) schools serving financially-challenged families from high crime neighborhoods.
The program engages the learners in kinesthetic activities at which they can easily succeed, this improving student self-esteem, increasing identity with positive aspects of the education process, and promoting interest in higher education.
We find their services to be of the highest quality, providing thorough assessment, which indicates that Achieving through Music consistently produces improved student performance results. We consider the techniques MuST delivers to be cutting edge in comprehensiveness and sensitivity to the needs of youth, families and inner-city schools. Achieving through Music recognizes and celebrates the value of each youth's unique background. This emphasis on cultural diversity helps our schools feel more like home to many deserving, bright youth and creates an atmosphere of acceptance and community. Thus, through this innovative music intervention, we are beginning to change the current state of our public schools. MuST's Achieving through Music program is the beginning of a new tomorrow for the youth and schools it serves.
The Department of Special Education has enjoyed a positive relationship with MuST's Achieving through Music program and its Program Director, Deb Bradway, over the last four years. During that time, MuST was able to secure funding that provided Therapeutic Music Intervention to middle schoolers at James Lick and Luther Burbank. We were pleased when DCYF funding allowed them to expand the program into Woodside Learning Center and Log Cabin.
It is possible that many of these youth would not be incarcerated, had they received these services for a significant amount of time prior to committing crimes. A disproportionate number of youth in our special education programs are Latino and African American, and need hands-on and cultural experiences to engage in the learning process. If the youth who find their identity through the arts are not given follow-up services, guidance and financial assistance to participate on a career-bound path, they may find themselves returning to the Juvenile Justice System over and over.