Wharton Music Center and Community Charter School of Paterson Make Beautiful Music Together with Paterson Music Project
Friday, March 8, 2013 • 7:23am
Second grade students at Community Charter School of Paterson are learning to play violins, violas, and cellos as part of the newly formed Paterson Music Project, an El Sistema-inspired music program in Paterson, New Jersey. Sponsored by Wharton Music Center, an independent non-profit community music center located in Berkeley Heights, Paterson Music Project has blossomed to life under the direction of Jeffrey Grogan, Artistic Director of New Jersey Youth Symphony, the orchestral division of Wharton Music Center whose mission is to advance excellence and education in the performing arts.
Seeking to focus its outreach efforts in music education, Wharton Music Center (WMC) decided to develop a music program for students in Paterson who had minimal exposure to the performing arts. Joining with Community Charter School of Paterson (CCSP) was a promising first step after learning of Principal Marnie McCoy’s intense desire to develop a music program at CCSP. NJYS’s Mr. Grogan who has substantial experience with youth orchestras including New Jersey Youth Symphony and InterSchool Orchestras of New York raised the prospect of creating an El Sistema-inspired music program in Paterson.
El Sistema, originated in Venezuela by Dr. José Antonio Abreu over 30 years ago, provides a model of how a music program can both create musicians and positively impact the lives of children. Students are immersed in learning music several days a week and taught by loving and caring music teachers. Students learn to respect themselves and each other as they work together as a group. El Sistema incorporates such core values as “every child has limitless possibilities and the ability to strive for excellence”. As an El Sistema-inspired program, Paterson Music Program at CCSP offers a structured environment for fostering social change and youth development through music to enable participating students to feel valuable within their community. Visit www.elsistemausa.org for more information regarding El Sistema.
Reaching out to the music community engaged in El Sistema progams in the United States, Mr. Grogan proposed initially developing a small program devoted to string instruments for CCSP second grade students. Thanks to funding from The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Dombal-Vogel Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation, The Henry M. and Agnes R. Truzack Foundation, and the Wallerstein Foundation, a pilot program was initiated in January 2013 with 30 CCSP second grade students. Coordinating the Paterson Music Project is violinist and faculty member Elizabeth Moulthrop. Assisting her as faculty members are cellist Terrence Thornhill, and violist Shanna Lin.
After the first few weeks, Artistic Director Jeffrey Grogan commented, “The students are absolutely wonderful. I was inspired to hear the kids singing yesterday! They played a name game where everyone sang their name using "sol" and "mi." They already know the names of all the instruments and the parts of the string instruments and the letters of all the notes.” Paterson Music Project is now in its sixth week.
The mission of Paterson Music Project is to use music as a vehicle for social change by empowering and inspiring children through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing. Students attend two-hour classes three times a week after school. Instruction includes instrumental instruction separately for violin, viola, and cello, general music activities, solfege class, and history and cultural activities. As the students become more proficient in playing their instruments, they will play together as an ensemble.
Program Coordinator Elizabeth Moulthrop remarks, “Students are getting so much out of this program. We can clearly see this even after only six weeks. They are enthusiastic, eager, inquisitive, and incredibly smart.” Every Thursday is “Performance Thursday” where parents are invited to arrive 10 minutes early before dismissal to listen to the class perform what they are working on.
Selecting these three energetic music education instructors was serendipitous. Mr. Grogan is delighted to work with such talented and enthusiastic musicians who are committed to the Paterson Music Project.
Ms. Moulthrop attended The Boyer School of Music and Dance at Temple University in Philadelphia where she earned her degree in Music Education. In 2011, Ms. Moulthrop founded Notes for Change a non-profit organization that aims to increase access to music education for underserved youth. She was inspired to begin the organization after visiting Pisco, Peru where she started a music festival for local students that is currently in its third year. She has performed with the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, Temple University Orchestra, and Montclair State University Orchestra. Ms. Moulthrop performs throughout the New York-Metropolitan area with her string quartet and as a freelance artist and maintains a private violin studio.
Cellist Terrence Thornhill is pursuing a Masters degree in Cello Performance at SUNY Purchase. He graduated from the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.in 2011 with a degree in Performance and Music Education. Violist Shanna Lin. received her Bachelors degree in viola performance and music education from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a Performance Certificate degree at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.
For more information on the Paterson Music Project, visit www.njys.org/paterson-music-project-2/ .
Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights, provides music, theater, and dance instruction, educational programs, and performances for children, teens, and adults. In addition to instruction in all instruments and voice, WMC offers classes in musical theater, dance, drama, choral music, vocal music, music theory, audio recording, early childhood music, and music for children with special needs. Offering a range of musical genres including classical, rock, jazz, and blues, WMC is one of New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community music centers serving students in Union, Morris, Essex, Somerset, Middlesex, and surrounding counties.
WMC offers orchestral and ensemble music education for grades 3 through 12 through New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has ten orchestras and ensembles for which auditions are held annually. NJYS’s premiere orchestra, Youth Symphony, has performed in internationally-renowned concert halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Musikverein in Vienna.