Last but far from least on Arin and Andrew’s southeastern Network trip was Campus Club Milledgeville. Leadership team Gregory and Toyia Barnes partner with public schools, nearby Georgia College and local business leaders to offer musical instruction to the K-12 students of Milledgeville, GA and surrounding areas.
Our day began with an introduction by Toyia to Dr. Noris Price, Superintendent for Baldwin County Schools, who spoke to the relationship between CCM and Milledgeville’s school district, and the opportunities City Music provides to students for college preparation. We were then introduced to Kathy Carroll at nearby Baldwin High School, who was proud to speak about some of the students who have attended the Berklee 5-Week Summer Performance Program as well as Berklee College and her experiences directing the chorus at Baldwin High School. We were also treated to some brief but beautiful singing by a few of the students in her class.
A short drive away to downtown Milledgeville took us to Georgia College, where we met Dr. Chelsey Mercado, Chair of the Music Therapy. Students from Dr. Mercado’s department teach CCM students on-campus, working with them to develop both musical proficiency as well as academic and interpersonal skills to help them succeed in college and beyond. We met Dr. Lisa Griffin, Director for the School of Health and Human Performance, who not only also provides instructors to CCM but whose annual Art Healthy event invites CCM students to perform as well as participate in an active community event. Dr. Griffin mentioned that she is proud to attend every CCM event!
We toured the audiovisual and recording facilities at Georgia College, which CCM students access as part of their experience. After a debrief that included CCM board chair Cassandra Ford, Esq., it was clear that CCM is all about collaboration as a means to bring music education and its corresponding personal development to as wide an audience as possible.
Four sites, one week and about seven-hundred miles on our rental car’s odometer after we started this trip, we flew back to Boston with ample information and even more inspiration. The southeast region is diverse in programming and demographics but unified in its commitment to students. This trip was a welcome opportunity to meet the people who make our work possible, and we returned to our office galvanized by their accomplishments.
Arin and Andrew’s third stop on their southeastern trip took them to Woodlawn Musical Arts, Entertainment and Industry Program of Birmingham, AL. Conducted by state-of-the-art local recording studio Audiostate 55, Woodlawn provides a music technology course to students from local schools, a summer music camp that serves over two hundred students and opportunities to perform at local community events.
When we arrived, Dr. Henry Panion, President at Audiostate 55, explained some of the projects he is working on with students at the local public schools including music videos to celebrate several local and national events. We then had an opportunity to observe one of the music technology courses that Woodlawn provides as an elective for students at a nearby high school. These students use PULSE in conjunction with other software to learn the basics of sound production and recording technology. We also got to meet members of the school faculty as well as the recording and business staff at Audiostate 55.
Dr. Panion then gave us a tour of the Birmingham community, including the impressive musical facilities at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where Dr. Panion teaches as both University Professor of Music and Co-Director of Music Technology. We also visited the Woodlawn Foundation offices, which engages and enriches the Birmingham community through the Woodlawn music program as well partnerships providing academic tutoring, mixed income housing, locally sourced produce and other efforts at “holistic neighborhood revitalization.”
The support of these teachers, philanthropic partners, engineers and administrators allows Woodlawn Musical Arts, Entertainment and Industry Program to provide greater opportunities, musically as well as academically, to students in the Birmingham community. With its deep roots in the community and roads to Berklee College and beyond, City Music is proud to partner with this grassroots, globally minded organization.
Arin and Andrew continued their tour of BCMN’s southeastern region at Community Music School of Raleigh. NC. Founded over twenty years ago at around the same time as City Music, CMS provides private lessons at virtually no cost to students in elementary school all the way up through high school. Beginning musicians receive introductory instruction in music reading and advanced students have the opportunity to play in CMS ensembles and perform at local community events, including through partnerships with local symphony orchestras.
Our day at CMS began with meeting acting interim executive director Debra DeCamillis, school operations manager Erin Zanders and PULSE coordinate Matt Douglas. Once again it was great to put faces to all of the names we were so used to emailing and calling over the phone! We also enjoyed the tour of CMS’s facilities, including the main building where students study everything from piano to ukulele and the community center next door, which CMS uses for performances while sharing it with other community organizations.
We then broke for a lunch discussion of CMS’s history and programming (as well as the finer points of Carolina barbeque!). Matt shared some of his successes with PULSE in his Composition Workshop, and a common theme of eagerness to recruit more students, a desire to share the craft and confidence-building of music with even larger audiences, had already emerged on this trip. That was the perfect segue to head back to CMS and continue our discussion while students began filling the halls and rooms for their after-school instruction. We also got to observe a high school percussion ensemble, a piano student learning the harmonies and chord scales for John Legend’s “All Of Me” and a first grader practicing her solfège.
We came back the next day to observe Matt’s Composition Workshop, which allows students of all ages to write original material. It was rewarding to see a teacher incorporate PULSE into his own curriculum, inspiring to see and hear his students using that City Music platform to channel their own creativity. This was yet another example of what makes our Network so strong and so important. We left looking forward to meeting other Network partners, learning more about their work and doing more to promote it.