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Bringing the Joy of Music to Children in Need

Released 3 February 2014

Bringing the Joy of Music to Children in Need

TuneUpIn the first 15 minutes of her first flute lesson, 10-year-old Kaziah could play a bell-like B note and had already begun to master her instrument's tricky mouthpiece. Several weeks before, she had managed the same on the notoriously challenging French horn.

"She's amazing," said Jason Collier, performing arts manager at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. "She really has a great natural sound."

In practice rooms nearby, Fatima, 8, knew exactly where to position her thumb—"between the grip and the frog"—on the bow of her cello, and 12-year-old T.J. plucked the strings of his viola with the confidence born of diligent practice.

All three students are among the 38 enrolled in Let's Play!, a music partnership begun last October between The Salvation Army Kroc Center and Philadelphia Youth Orchestra—Tune Up Philly.

It's a match meant to be. Since its founding, The Salvation Army has enjoyed a rich musical tradition, performing music on the street and at worship services as a means of reaching society's most vulnerable people.

For its part, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra is the region's premiere program for young, gifted classical musicians and one of the oldest and most highly regarded organizations of its kind in the United States. One of the orchestra's five ensembles, Tune Up Philly's mission is to nurture children in challenging social and economic conditions by keeping them engaged in success through after- school music instruction. As budget cuts reduce or eliminate the arts in Philadelphia's public schools, strategic partnerships benefitting educational opportunities have become critically important.

"When the amazingly talented Louis Scaglione [president and musical director of Tune Up Philly]and his wonderful team became our partners, we were thrilled," said Raymond Welsh, chair of the advisory board of The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia. "Hearing the news was music to my ears!"

Students enrolled in "Let's Play!" range in age from 6 to 13 and come from nearby schools and neighborhoods in North Philadelphia. Three afternoons a week, they bring their instruments (made available on loan) to a 45-minute group lessons, followed by another 45 minutes in an exploratory music class or ensemble.

Individual classes range from 5 to 10 students and are taught by Teaching Artists—professional musicians, performers and music educators who hold degrees in music and have performed throughout the U.S. and abroad.

After only two months of instruction, Let's Play! students made their first public appearance last month at the Trinity Center for Urban Life in Philadelphia, where they collaborated with other Philadelphia—Tune Up Philly ensembles on a salsa version of the classic spiritual "When the Saints Go Marching In." Other concerts are planned for March and May, along with a spring performance at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corp Community Center Worship and Performing Arts Center.

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