CHICAGO, IL –– If you have ever heard the music of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, or Bruno Mars rising from a Chicago Public School (CPS) music classroom, chances are that you have heard one of the district’s 144 Modern Bands in action. Thanks to a new philanthropic investment of over $2,000,000 worth of instruments, curriculum and professional development, the number of Chicago schools offering these classes is set to double over the next five years and more than 100,000 students in 300 CPS schools will benefit from the district’s new initiative.
On February 28, CPS will announce the expansion of its partnership with national nonprofit Music Will. The nonprofit is making one of the largest investments ever into CPS by a partner organization. Approximately 320 of the 397 CPS sites that offer music programming will benefit from this expansion of the district’s Modern Band programs. The announcement celebrates the near decade-long partnership of CPS and Music Will, and the work that this expansion will facilitate. Guest speakers and a special performance by Modern Band students from Franklin Fine Arts Academy will be featured.
Modern Band programs teach kids the popular musical styles of the past 60 years including rock, reggae, hip-hop, Latin and other genres. The method focuses on improvisation, composition, and getting kids to play the music they know and love. Modern Band is a burgeoning national movement and many school districts across the country are adding it to their roster as a means of getting more kids involved in music.
The federal government recently declared music as an important part of a “well-rounded education” in the Every Student Succeeds Act stating that it must be taught to all students “… regardless of their personal circumstances.”
To understand how a culturally relevant music program can affect students, one needs to look no further than our nation’s own musical history. “We should look at the place that jazz music now has in our society, our schools, and our curricula,” said Evan Plummer, Director of Arts Education for Chicago Public Schools. “Jazz, once a marginalized musical genre, is now part of the canon, and student engagement in jazz is sustained. We now have the chance to bring popular music into our schools. It brings a sense of cultural relevance to our diverse sets of students within the district.”
“Modern Band helps school districts build music programs that are diverse as the children they serve,” says David Wish, CEO and Founder of Music Will. “We are proud to have been working work with Chicago Public Schools since 2008 to bring the transformational gift of music to more students. We are honored to help them double the size of their Modern Band programming over the next five years.”
ABOUT CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS Chicago Public Schools is the third largest school district in the United States with 652 schools providing education to approximately 381,000 children. Our vision is that every student in every neighborhood will be engaged in a rigorous, well-rounded instructional program and will graduate prepared for success in college, career and life.
ABOUT Music Will Music Will is a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming lives by restoring, expanding, and innovating music education in our schools. The organization partners with public school districts to train teachers to run its innovative Modern Band curriculum, and donates all the accompanying instruments and resources necessary to teach popular music in a way that empowers students to experience instant achievement. What began as a single after-school guitar class has since exploded into a national movement that brings free, weekly music lessons to more than 275,000 public school children through the efforts of more than 1,800 teachers in 127 school districts nationwide. To date, Music Will has served more than 500,000 students.