Music Education

Music Education 2Purpose Statement:
Access to music education is transformative. Youth involved in music cultivate crucial skills, fulfill their creative potential, and grow into complete persons. Unfortunately, barriers to musical exploration are high, especially as beginning students face steep instrument costs and school music budgets fall. This project will unite music educators and students to reduce these barriers to access, especially at the upper elementary and middle school level when students are most likely to explore instrumental music.

Omaha takes its music very seriously. The city has committed stakeholders in both public and private school music instruction, youth-focused organizations like the Omaha Conservatory of Music and Omaha Area Youth Orchestras, and community support for music and the arts across a broad socioeconomic spectrum.

Proposed Project Goal:
Gather interested parties engaged in youth music instruction. Share information on their current resources and needs. Assess the impact of the existing model on school and family budgets, access to music education, and ‘instrument mobility.’ Brainstorm opportunities for increased efficiency and interagency cooperation.

Maggie Rasmussen and I came out of an extended communications breakdown with a headlong rush toward our first pilot project. We set the major elements of our first meeting – location, date, final invites, and logistics – within a week of our last feasible date, Monday, November 25th. Honestly, it shouldn’t have worked. However, we worked feverishly to get it all put together. Most importantly, our community responded. Despite short notice and the Thanksgiving holiday, we were fortunate to draw three attendees for our first conversation on music education in Omaha. The invitees and organizations that sent their regrets all expressed interest in being involved in the project and future conversations.

Music Education 1Our choice of location – the conference room at Swanson Branch Library – worked well for a small, intimate group. We made some adjustments to our discussion prompts and note-taking to reflect the scale of the discussion. Our attendees arrived curious and excited to discuss their efforts. The players in our quintet included two representatives from the Omaha Conservatory of Music and the administrator of music in the Catholic schools. The Conservatory staff brought some particularly interesting background with their ongoing, wildly successful Violin Sprouts initiative. This effort offers early childhood violin instruction – and a 1:16 scale violin –to needy students free. Deb Lund, the Archdiocese of Omaha administrator, provided lots of great context for the operations, resources, and concerns of the tuition-based parochial music programs. Both groups had learning moments about the other. Even in the world of music education, which can feel so small, our attendees made new connections and came away from the event with new information.

Posted by Mark Sorensen, Facilitator-in-Training

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