NJPAC and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Partner To Increase Access To Music Education

Photo: Norman DeShong
Photo: Norman DeShong

Arts programs in public schools are often the first to go when funds are scarce, even when study after study has shown that musical education instills in children a sense of pride and happiness and can bolster their overall intelligence.

Recently, two local organizations have announced a partnership designed to increase Newark-area students’ access to high-quality instrumental music education. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) will be working together to offer programs for Greater Newark-area students in fifth through 10th grades. These students can study string, woodwind, brass and percussion instrument with a focus on building leadership skills while developing musical and instrumental proficiency.

New Jersey Youth Symphony, courtesy of NJPAC
New Jersey Youth Symphony, courtesy of NJPAC

This venture, Music Advancement for Newark-Area Youth, or MANY, will prepare students who seek acceptance into performance-based educational programs within the Newark-area community including the Arts High School Orchestra and Concert Band, Newark School of the Arts, NJPAC Brick City Jazz Orchestra, Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens and NJSO Youth Orchestras.

The NJPAC opened its doors in 1997 and, since then, has become one of the largest performing arts centers in the country. Known for its ability to bring diverse communities together through its artistic, cultural and educational programming, NJPAC affords access to the world’s premier artists and performers while revitalizing the city of Newark.

The NJSO, lead by Music Director Jacques Lacombe, presents classical, pops and family programs, outdoor summer concerts and other special events. In addition to serving as the resident orchestra of the NJPAC, the NJSO also performs regularly at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, and Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood. The NJSO also presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that seek to promote a love of and appreciation for live music.

As a new collaboration, MANY will serve to bridge two programs: the NJPAC Symphonic Band Program designed for students in grades 5 through 8 with little to no prior musical instruction will provide a musical foundation in woodwind, brass and percussion instruments; and NJSO Youth Orchestras Training Ensemble designed for students in grades 5 through 10 which will provide intensive musical instruction and leadership development to beginner and intermediate students of string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments.

Students in the Greater Newark Area (Newark, Irvington, Bayonne, Belleville, Bloomfield, East Orange, Elizabeth, Harrison, Hillside, Jersey City, Kearny, Maplewood, Orange and South Orange) are invited to placement auditions for NJPAC Symphonic Band Program and the NJSO Youth Orchestras Training Ensemble on Thursday, November 20, at the NJPAC Center for Arts Education and Saturday, November 22, at Rutgers Newark’s Bradley Hall. For additional information and to apply, contact artseducation@njpac.org or 973.353.7058.

“Musical and instrumental education programs like this are vital in the development of young talent. Students will use their instrument to collaborate with their peers and improve their skills as an ensemble,” says Acting Head and Assistant Vice President of the Arts Education Department at NJPAC Alison Scott-Williams. “This new partnership provides music instruction for Newark-area youth who are without a band or other music training at their schools.”

“This work is at the heart of the values NJPAC and the Orchestra share,” says Marshell Jones Kumahor, NJSO Vice President of Education and Community Engagement. “We see this partnership primarily as a catalyst for further collaborations with area schools and arts organizations committed to nurturing our young people. We are excited about the possibilities that MANY can spark.”



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