Urban Music Education Programming

Urban Music Education Programming

The I-65 Corridor Project

A Program of Music for All

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About the I-65 Corridor Project

Music for All has broadened and modified its approach to expanding scholastic music education opportunities, refining and opening new pathways for student and music program participation. This approach is best demonstrated by our 2018 launch of Music for All’s I-65 Corridor Project - a program designed to create and implement sustainable student-teacher driven collaboration and tools intended to increase participation and reduce barriers to scholastic music-making within coreurban school communities along the I-65 corridor (from Gary, Indiana to Mobile, Alabama).

The project envisions, develops, and implements “self-help” strategies supporting music education. The focus is to provide students and teachers with a forum and the collaborative planning resources and skills that encourage and are necessary to help them (acting alone and independent of challenges posed by lack of program support from administrators, policy decision-makers, and the community) address everyday challenges and the systemic inequities and disparities facing urban scholastic music programs. The goal is to create small steps (and appreciation and recognition of them) that move the needle in favor of securing an ultimate outcome of increased program support from administrators, policy decision-makers, and the community. Schools from Gary (Region 1), Muncie (Region 5), and IPS (Region 7), are directly engaged in this program, with Muncie serving as an “I-65 Corridor spur,” capitalizing on and levering our existing Summer Symposium programming in and commitment to ensuring access and delivery of quality scholastic music making and education in Muncie/Delaware County.

Why I-65?

For nearly two decades, Music for All has maintained a commitment to diligent, hands-on engagement with the scholastic music programs of Indianapolis Public Schools. These efforts have sparked research into “peer” communities in hopes of finding new strategies to address barriers and threats to sequential music education, such as frequent administrative or faculty turnover, financial struggle, and state-imposed solutions. In the course of this research, MFA found many parallels in the challenges and concerns faced by communities along the corridor, with most schools facing challenges characteristic of threatened and traditionally underserved schools and populations. Inspired by this observation, the I-65 Corridor Project was established with the goal of forging and implementing new strategies that address possibilities for growth and increased achievement within these underserved communities. In the first year of the I-65 Project, Music for All developed ongoing partnerships with 11 schools in eight communities along the I-65 corridor: Gary, IN; Indianapolis, IN; Louisville, KY; Nashville, TN; Huntsville, AL; Birmingham, AL; Montgomery, AL; and Mobile, AL.

Urban Education Advisory Committee

In order to develop and execute the I-65 Corridor Project, Music for All has assembled the Urban Education Advisory Committee, a team of educators and administrators with extensive knowledge of the strategic planning process and experience working with core urban school districts. Committee members William Earvin, Zachary Harris, Tim Linley, Myran Parker-Brass, and Ayatey Shabazz oversee all aspects of the project, from the development of relationships with corridor teachers and administrators to the creation of content and curriculum for project participants. Committee members serve as liaisons to participating teachers in each community, providing mentorship and guidance as teachers develop and implement strategic plans to maximize local investment and elevate community recognition of their programs. The Committee is also responsible for executing one specially-designed professional development session or “engagement opportunity” per academic school year in each of the corridor communities.

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Zachary Harris, Chair
Adjunct Professor of Music, William Carey University

William Earvin
Director of Bands, Baker High School

Ayatey Shabazz
CEO, The DevMusic Company

Tim Linley
Executive Director for Visual and Performing Arts, Dallas ISD

Myran Parker-Brass
Executive Director for the Arts, Boston Public Schools

The I-65 Corridor Summit at the Music for All Summer Symposium

Each teacher who participates in the I-65 Corridor Project is invited to attend the I-65 Corridor Summit, which takes place during the Music for All Summer Symposium each June. Music for All provides full-ride scholarships for one teacher and two students from each community to attend this experience. During the I-65 Corridor Summit, participants have the opportunity to network with each other and share their experiences, gaining valuable insight from the successes and challenges of their peers. Participating teachers have access to the full offerings of the Summer Symposium Directors’ Academy, as well as a specialized curriculum for music teachers in core urban environments, which is curated by our Urban Education Advisory Committee.

Student attendees of the I-65 Corridor Summit elect one of ten divisions of study that serves as their primary focus for the week. In addition to rehearsals, master classes, leadership sessions, and performances, I-65 Corridor students also participate in collaborative discussions with their teachers, during which they develop a strategic plan to support the growth and sustainability of their music program during the following academic year. The curriculum for the I-65 Corridor Summit is guided by the belief that collaboration between students and teachers is the best method for creating and developing a comprehensive music program that can sustain itself through the support and investment of its most important groups of constituents.

What Comes Next?

In 2019, Music for All’s commitment to the I-65 Corridor Project is expanding to include a second school in each of the original eight communities, as well as three new “spur” communities located in districts adjacent to the I-65 Corridor. By expanding this network of similarly-resourced schools, Music for All hopes to continue to inspire productive and engaging communication between participants that will lead to mutual support, actionable strategies, and an extensive anthology of resources for demographically similar communities. Through the I-65 Corridor Project, Music for All aims to identify strategies for the advancement of music education that can be adapted and replicated by programs in core urban school districts across the United States.

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