For nearly 10 years, the Yale School of Music’s Music in Schools Initiative has worked to enrich music-education programs in New Haven Public Schools.
The program was originally envisioned as a way to connect the School of Music to the broader New Haven community, Rachel Glodo MUS ’13, the initiative’s music administrator, said. Its centerpiece project brings School of Music students into public schools to act as “teaching artists,” where they work alongside NHPS music teachers to supplement the system’s performing arts curriculum. According to Michael Yaffe, dean of the School of Music, Music in Schools gives students at the Music School a chance to engage with New Haven beyond Yale.
“It is really important for great musicians to give back to the community and have a social conscience,” Yaffe said. “We are trying to show them how important it is to make a difference in someone’s life, especially if they are on a different end of the socioeconomic scale.”
Glodo explained that the program’s vision of supplementary music education centers around both mentorship and “active music-making.” She emphasized the importance of the School of Music’s partnership with NHPS in coordinating many of the initiative’s activities throughout the year, such as the teaching artist program. Supplementary programming — often organized in tandem with NHPS — includes a student orchestra, intensive summer music lessons, music festivals, solo concerts in Sprague Hall for student performers and symposia on the role of music education in community development.
According to Glodo, much of the work of Music in Schools is team-taught by public school teachers and School of Music graduate students.
“Our program is intended to support and augment music education in the public school classroom, and thus most our activities include not only Music School graduate students, but NHPS teachers as well,” Glodo explained.
Complementing the initiative’s recurring programs, Music in Schools also features special events, Glodo added. This January, the initiative provided free Yale Philharmonia concert tickets to 120 of the program’s students and family members, and hosted a pre-concert party for attendees to interact with guest conductor Caroline Kuan. Next Saturday, March 12, five of the initiative’s student participants will perform with the U.S. Navy Concert Band, and on March 19 the School of Music will host three concerts featuring Music in Schools students.
Ruben Rodriguez MUS ’11, the initiative’s lead teacher, highlighted the program’s social impact.
“For some of [the students] it is about indispensable and healthy self-esteem, while for others it is about expressing themselves and experiencing music as an outlet for feelings and life struggles,” Rodriguez said. “For others it is a way to be part of the community they live in … for others it is to have a social network — real, not virtual — where they feel accepted, respected and appreciated; [and] for others it is the opportunity to enjoy art and discover or develop their talents … a path to define who they are and, through music, build their dreams.”
The Yale School of Music was founded in 1894.