By Shannon Frost Greenstein
The Grammy Music Education Coalition, a nonprofit representing over thirty nationally-recognized music education organizers including the National Association for Music Education and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, was launched this past Tuesday. The collective’s admirable goal is to dramatically increase the number of students writing, performing, and studying music in the U.S. public school system.
Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow told Billboard that the concept was sparked by a what-if. “The big dream was what if every young person had the opportunity to be involved with music through the public school system,” he’s quoted as stating. Indeed, it’s a very significant question to ask, given the number of children currently attending public schools and the proven benefits music programming has upon their education.
The GMEC plans to start its work in traditionally under-served communities which may lack financial or musical resources. The coalition will initially roll out in three school districts: Nashville (Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ Music Makes Us), New York City (New York City Department of Education) and Philadelphia (The School District of Philadelphia). The ultimate goal is sustainability, to create programs which school districts can easily implement and sustain independently over time.
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia School District has had its fair share struggles in recent years. This initiative is spectacular news for Philly schoolchildren and their parents, particularly for families whose schools have been forced to cut or diminish music programming.
Philadelphia, of course, is the birthplace of countless big names in music, both former and present, who got their starts right here in the city. It’s great to know that the stars of tomorrow, potentially enrolled in our public school system at this very moment, are about to get more support, funding, and opportunities.