Most Philadelphians are well aware of the recent and quite devastating "Doomsday" budget cuts to the public school system, which essentially made any arts and music programs a thing of the past. Not so fast, a group of pretty remarkable, forward-thinking parents and teachers of Chester Arthur Elementary recently formed a non-profit to help offset the lack of funding and keep vital school programs intact for the city's kids.
I learned more about their efforts and have volunteered my Friday afternoons to design and implement our version of a music program for the 5th and 6th grade class: precisely the age I when I was introduced to playing music. So we've formed the Chester Arthur Drum Club! The school is equipped with an old piano, and that's about it. So we've gathered dozens of 5 gallon plastic buckets - essentially, they make great drums. Donations have been helpful in getting drum sticks, other noisemakers, and we even managed to piece together a full drum set, via community donations, to provide a rhythmic anchor to our newly formed percussion ensemble. I was amazed by the community's helpful response: Below is a little recent press:
I feel the kids are at the perfect age not only to release a little physical energy, but to learn to express and create through a group based, teamwork-driven musical experience. I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned about music, it's rewards and it's challenges, but I also can't wait to learn something new from these new musicians. Thank you for your consideration.
Funded by Philadelphia, PA (October 2013)