Instrumental Outreach

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Frost MusicReach programs are making a pivotal impression on underserved and disadvantaged youth by enriching their lives with music.

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D.M.A. candidate Angelo Versace, center, enjoys sharing the piano with students in the Overtown Music Project.

By Lisa Sedelnick
Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 15, 2013) — Six-year-old Amad Nelson dutifully claps to the rhythm of an American bluegrass fiddle tune, paying close attention to the changes in tempo. The lively song, Boil ‘Em Cabbage Down, is deftly played on the violin by the college-aged instructor, whose tapping foot acts as a veritable metronome.

For 7-year-old Khyairee Jackson, it’s the creative lesson about the violin’s four strings and the notes they represent—G, D, A, and E—that piques her interest.

“There are strings on the violin, and these strings have names, sort of like how we have names,” explains Zach Piper, a graduate string performance major at the University of Miami Frost School of Music and a student mentor in one of the Frost School’s many community outreach initiatives. “So let’s call the ‘G’ string George. Everyone say, ‘Hey George.’” [The five students respond “Hey George!” in unison.]

Under the umbrella name of Frost MusicReach, graduate and undergraduate students from the Frost School provide free music education programs—funded through grants, strategic partnerships, and private donations—that target underserved and disadvantaged areas of Miami-Dade County, including the West Grove, North Miami, Overtown, Goulds, and South Miami.

“In addition to teaching music, much of what we do here is to mentor these children…to teach them what’s right and what’s wrong, how to share, and how to speak to one another,” says Cassandra Eisenreich, M.M. ’09, D.M.A. ’12, a flutist and the outreach and program coordinator at the Frost School.

In what is known as the Harmony Project-Coconut Grove, the Frost School partners with with Miami-Dade District 7 and Miami-Dade Parks to offer music classes in Coconut Grove to students from The Barnyard and Elizabeth Virrick Park Community Center.

The Frost School also provides music education and mentorship in partnership with Frederick Douglass Elementary in Overtown, two charter schools affiliated with ASPIRA, and the Guitars Over Guns Organization (GOGO), a nonprofit started by Chad Bernstein, B.M. ’06, M.M. ’09, D.M.A. ’12.

“There is research that clearly shows that for young, underserved, or at-risk kids, being involved in a music program where they are actively making music makes them far more likely to stay in school and graduate,” says Frost School Dean Shelly Berg, who has made community outreach a priority for the school since his arrival in 2007.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2013 edition of Score Magazine. Click here to read the full story and other articles from the magazine.

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