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Celebrating Music and Black History Month

February 18th, 2014

Second semester is underway at the Clubs and the Performing Arts Program is running at full speed. After our very successful Winter Concert, we came back after the break and started to work on some new concepts. All our members who participate in the music programming, including general music and chorus students, are now learning the fundamentals of music notation and note reading. I’ve been very pleased with their progress.

Guitar and piano students continue to impress me with their focus and dedication. We are continuing with the class studies and in addition we have begun working on songwriting. Students are collaborating to put songs together with chords, melodies and lyrics. I am there to support their efforts and help guide the way, but they are writing these songs completely on their own. It’s something they are really enjoying, and it’s very exciting for all of us to see what happens. To be at the level where we can take what they’ve learned and apply it so they can express themselves through composition is something I am so very proud to see.

We have partnered with some local non-profits including Step Up Youth and Do Your Dance Inc. to offer dance programming as well, with additional classes beginning this April.

This month we have been celebrating Black History Month by learning about the origins of blues and jazz music, as well as the various instruments that are used in these genres. This also brings an opportunity to talk about how African-American musicians influenced the modern music of today, and what their lives were like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As the Spring Concert gets closer (May 8!) we are choosing our repertoire and beginning to rehearse the various pieces. We have some great things planned so we hope to see you in May!

The performing arts are an important component of learning, and it’s important to me that we continue to offer these programs to our members. Studies show that at-risk youth who have arts exposure are twice as likely to attend a 4-year college or university. 71% of at-risk youth with arts-rich experiences attend some kind of college as opposed to 48% with low arts exposure. As more and more schools are forced to cut art and music programs, it’s important that children in the Grand Rapids community have options outside of the schools, or options to bolster what the schools are offering. We are glad to be one of many Grand Rapids organizations that are committed to offering quality arts programs. Contact us to hear how you can help!

/ Mr. Casey

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