Studies show that involvement in music and arts programming improves a student’s confidence, teamwork, academic performance, persistence, motivation and other verbal and thinking skills. For students in inner cities, art programs also gives these students something to do and something to focus on so that they are not distracted by less productive activities.
This is why Play On Philly is so important. Play On Philly (POP) provides high quality music education to students after-school who lack access to these programs. During a typical year, they provide 2 hours of music instruction and ensemble practice every day after school and over 25 performance opportunities throughout the year. They have five centers and service about 300 students. Students participate in this program at no cost and they are loaned an instrument. The children in this program range from Pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade. The cost of purchasing and maintaining an instrument is very high. It is even more expensive to pay for ongoing lessons. POP provides these services to students that need them for free.
To further their commitment to music education and the arts, Play On Philly has launched the Marian Anderson Young Artist Program. Marian Anderson was known as a humanitarian who broke many racial boundaries as an African America opera singer in the 1930s. She was the first African American to perform at the White House and the first to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
In honor of one of Philadelphia’s most famous daughters, this Young Artist Program will offer Philadelphia students accepted into the program free tuition for a music studies program for children in grades three to eleven. They will receive one-on-one music instruction, mentorship and apprenticeship with professional musicians. The program is a long term program that will serve students in communities that have been historically excluded from high levels of musical professions due to the structural and economic barriers. Those who apply do not need to currently be in Play On Philly. This is open to anyone with any music background who demonstrates a clear passion and talent for pursing music professionally.
Director of Educational Programming for POP, Jessica Zweig, is proud that the family of Marian Anderson are very involved in the program. “We are very good partners with The Marian Anderson Estate. We have the license to use her name. Her family member is very much involved in helping us get this program off the ground. We feel very excited to be in collaboration with the family on this program because it really does speak to the legacy that the family wants to uphold,” she said.
There are two paths in this Young Artist Program. Zweig says “from forth grade to eighth grade you can audition to become an apprentice. An apprentice is a student who is so excited about their instrument. They love playing. They love practicing. We’re going to give them the support they need to be the best player they can be.” At this juncture, the student does not need to declare that they will do this for the rest of their life.
The second path is the Scholars Program. “By eighth and ninth grade, if you successfully transition into the Scholars Program, those students make a commitment that they want to go to music conservatory or music school and want to be playing professionally. We know in order to reach such heights, there is a level of dedication that they are going to have to start putting in at that moment to get them to that next step,” says Zweig.
Applications are accepted now until April 20. Learn more about the program and its connection to world-renowned contralto Marian Anderson online at playonphilly.org/andersonartist.