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Fellowship pledge is sweet music to disadvantaged kids

Fellowship pledge is sweet music to disadvantaged kids

News (International)

A music director in the US has pledged US$100,000 of her own fellowship award to establish an after-school music programme for primary school children

Marin Alsop, the new music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has pledged the remaining $100,000 of her $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award, which she won in 2005, to create a matching-grant programme OrchKids for first-graders in Baltimore, Maryland.

OrchKids is inspired by Venezuela's El Sistema, the music programme that in 30 years has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in that country's most impoverished areas.

Like El Sistema, OrchKids is intended not only to provide musical instruments and training, but also to address some of the pervasive social challenges effecting marginalised youth in the Baltimore area.

To this end, the BSO's OrchKids programme, which is free, will use music to cultivate fundamental life skills such as self-expression, cooperative learning, discipline and creativity, all of which have been linked to improved social and academic outcomes.

"We're all hopeful that the children who participate in OrchKids will do better in school, and grow musically," said Marin Alsop. "But the real measure of this program will be whether these children do better in life."

Alsop’s donation will be structured as a four-to-one matching gift, intended to motivate and inspire others in the community to provide additional support to sustain the OrchKids programme through the critical first few years of implementation and growth.

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