Aspiring Young Artists (or AYA) Project is a new and quickly growing after-school program serving musically inclined students in Philadelphia high schools where funding for music programming is scarce. Now operating out of three High Schools in North Philadelphia (Kensington CAPA, Olney, and YouthBuild Philadelphia), our aim and our process are simple. Give students a platform to build their voice and share their stories through the process of songwriting, recording, and performing. Connect these young artists 1-on-1 to an experienced local artist mentor from the Philadelphia music scene. In our after-school program, students work with mentors for 8 weeks, as they write and record their own music, often for the first time. In the end, our goal is to build confidence, creativity, and community in students through our unique combination of mentoring, songwriting, and peer connection.
Other things you should know about the AYA Project:
Students write their own music! This is not about students learning to play instruments or sing other people's songs (though both of these skills are wonderful). Rather, we believe that through songwriting, students can not only gain musical skills, but also come to understand the power and the value of their own voices.
We've done this before! Though we're not perfect, we've been running this program for 3 years and we know it works- we interview students after each year to see how we can improve.
To understand students' experiences a little more, check out the following quotes:
“‘Before, I wasn’t really confident in like, how I was singing. I thought I sounded really bad, and I was too scared to sing in front of people. But now, I think if I keep singing and like, writing songs, I would get better. And I might become a singer.” -Nyjia (10th Grade student)
“This program actually offers, to like actually be something that…not a superstar but basically in a process of becoming a superstar.” -Jesus (11th Grade Student)
Funded by Philadelphia, PA (May 2018)