choir students at the Settlement Music School

On Monday night I saw a lot of small children being exposed to classical music. Awesome!! Where? It was at the Settlement Music School‘s free concert at the Kimmel Center on Tuesday evening.

Settlement Music School is the largest community school of the arts in the United States. With six locations in South, West and Northeast Philadelphia, Germantown, Willow Grove and Camden, New Jersey, the School provides 10,000 weekly services of individual lessons, classes and activities in music, dance and visual arts to children and adults without regard to age, race or financial circumstances.

 The students’ performances were solid, and I was impressed with the French repertoire that they had prepared in honor of PIFA. There were many different instrumentalists and vocalists showcased. The audience, which included many children (toddlers, tots, and teens), sat respectfully with their parents and paid rapt attention — maybe out of amazement that their peers could make such sound!

So, how can any student have access to this experience?

Settlement Music School Experience – from WHYY

When I switched from public to private school in the fourth grade, one of the biggest changes for me what the addition of regular music classes. The exposure to music and my time spent playing it has led to a life-long love affair…as well as some good grades in school, all which culminated in an incredible experience on a Fulbright Scholarship in Sweden. I was funded to learn Scandinavian music, live, and dream for ten months in Stockholm.

The Settlement Music School seems to make it available to all. According to the website: Settlement’s generous financial and scholarship assistance of more than $2 million each year is among the highest of community schools across the country.

And why did I mention the link between music and studies? The Settlement school writes on their website that they provide a five-day-a-week nationally recognized, arts-centered preschool to inner-city children whose test scores for school readiness are three times greater than peers in a non-arts based program. ** (see below for even more life enriching facts)

So, is Settlement Music School a solution for children who love music and don’t get enough of it in school? Is it for any child, for that matter? The tuition fees are certainly a lower cost alternative to having to put a child into private school. I tried to get more information on how many students receive financial aid, but unfortunately the school is currently on spring break. But according to the WHYY documentary above, whatever you can afford, that’s what you pay. So really, if you want music, you’ve got it at Settlement.

Everybody Hates Mondays – Under the Moon: Settlement Music School Summer Jam 2009 

I think having regular music lessons is good for anyone, regardless of their “talent” (whatever that means!). One doesn’t need to make a career in music to live a musical life. If you would like to make a career, however, Settlement says this: Althought founded primarily for the benefit of school-aged children, Settlement developed a conservatory division offerning pre-professional training that was of sufficient stature to serve as the nucleud os the Curtis Institute of Music, established in 1924.

And beyond having music classes for general life enrichment, there is also a chance that your child will be able to find even more opportunities to grow should they be interested. Graduates from the Settlement school include a Nobel Laureate, MacArthur Fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, a Fulbright scholar, Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award winners, published authors, elected officials and many distinguished performers in all genres of music.

If you are looking for music lessons I suggest you visit the Settlement Music School or call them at 215-320-2600.

Oh, and what happened to my trapeze lessons? Rained out!
More that in my next installment.

**More information from the Settlement School of the positive benefits music has on a person’s life

• Low-income children attending Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School’s Kaleidoscope’s Preschool
Arts Enrichment Program, show gains in standardized vocabulary scores three times the size
of those demonstrated by their peers attending a nearby preschool with a traditional curriculum.
“Arts Enrichment and School Readiness for Children at Risk” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 2010

• 71% of Americans surveyed believe teenagers who play an instrument are less likely to have
disciplinary problems.
Gallup Poll, “American Attitudes Toward Music,” 2003

• Students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math
than students with no arts participation.
College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001

• Nine out of ten adults and teenagers who play instruments agree that music making brings
a family closer.
Music Making and Our Schools, American Music Conference, 2000

• Students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music during the
middle- and high-school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.
James Catterall, Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga, “Involvement in the Arts and Human Development,” U.S. Department of Education 1999

• Music majors are the most likely group of college graduates to be admitted to medical school.
Lewis Thomas, Case for Music in the Schools, Phi Delta Kappa, 1994

• The foremost technical designers and engineers in Silicon Valley are almost all practicing
Dee Dickinson, Music and the Mind, 1993

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