Seattle Music Partners Programs
We believe that music is a powerful tool for inspiring and empowering young people. Our mission is to help underserved children learn to play an instrument and read music.
To attain this goal, we recruit, train and support skilled high school, college-aged and community musicians as volunteer music tutors and mentors who lead one-on-one lessons with their students each week. These lessons are supplemented by a second afternoon of group instruction that focuses on music theory concepts. We also provide instruments to participants and transportation where needed.
SMP currently works in partnership with four public schools in Seattle’s Central District that have high 'free and reduced fee' lunch profiles. More than 82% of the elementary school population we work with this year receive free or reduced fee lunch benefits, compared to a district average of approximately 40%. Our students come from a variety of ethnic groups (more than 80% of whom are students of color) and from varied family circumstances (including homeless families, single parent homes and guardianships).
Thanks to a terrific team of volunteers, we currently are providing one-on-one music instruction to more than 80 students each week. Lessons are being taught on flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, piano, guitar and percussion.
Our volunteers hail from more than 25 high schools, colleges, and community ensembles (who last year contributed in excess of 5,200 hours of service).
We provide a safe, after-school environment for students to learn to read and play music while enjoying the benefits of a mentoring relationship. Concepts such as creativity, responsibility, goal-setting and perseverance are reinforced in the context of music lessons and performances. Each week as the students rush to see their tutors and begin their lessons, there is a palpable sense of admiration and shared support among participants.
But it is not only the younger children who benefit from participation in our program – the lives of SMP’s tutors are also enriched in the process. In addition to the inherent rewards of community service, tutors also gain job experience and leadership skills, improve their own musicianship and strengthen their own optimism by directly addressing an inequality in their lives.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
past year 80% of SMP's Washington Middle School bound 6th graders
signed up to audition for the orchestra and band programs. Not only did a significant number of SMP participants
audition, 86% placed at the intermediate (or higher) level, setting a new
standard of accomplishment (up from 76% the prior year).
Last fall we expanded our program to two afternoons a week at select sites - one afternoon focused on general music concepts and ensemble activities, with the other continuing our focus on individualized lessons, guided practice and mentoring. We believe that providing our students with two sessions a week will accelerate learning about the language of music and increase instrument 'touch time.' We are thrilled with the results so far!
Funds are needed for general operating support to support this new initiative and our ongoing program. 100% of our funding comes from the generosity of the community. We do not charge students or their families to participate, to borrow instruments for the school year, for transportation, etc.