A+ Denver makes the case for our music program

Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 in Education Policy | 0 comments

A+ Denver makes the case for our music program

In the education world since No Child Left Behind, schools and districts have increasingly focused more and more of the school day on “core subjects” that are on standardized tests.  This has been one of the unintended consequences of legislation that we believe, at the very core of the authors’ being, was written to help and not hurt Denver’s kids.

Education News Colorado has published an article today that makes the case for the necessity of our music program.  As the executive director of A+ Denver states (and we agree with), “It’s really challenging to find kids in Denver who play violin or cello well enough to get into DSA (Denver School of the Arts),” Schoales said. “One of the reasons for that is that there isn’t a DPS elementary school that has a music program that isn’t dependent on parents providing instruments or paying for lessons. I was somewhat shocked by how dramatic some of the data was.”

Our founder, Jason Justice, encountered the very same problem back in 2003.  He found that DSA had a population of around 70% Anglo students, but the Denver Public Schools had a population of Black and Latino students at around 80%.  He found the disparity alarming, and he found the very same issues that now A+ Denver has found: many parents have to make the choice between living expenses and instruments and lessons…so the choice for many families is clear.  Kids go without.

You can read the whole article here.

This is why we have to keep going.  We’ve just updated our board and are working on plans to focus on new music opportunities for young people at Thomas Jefferson High School and in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood.  We just had a very successful fundraiser last week which raised $1000 for much-needed equipment to help kids self-produce their own music.  We’re looking forward to a great school year, and we’d like to invite you along for the ride.

Please consider either volunteering or donating today.  Thank you!

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Working at Lincoln HS during 2011-2012

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in Projects | 0 comments

During the 2011-2012 school year, we assisted in direct classroom support 3 days a week at Lincoln High in southwest Denver. Thanks to our partnership with the great staff at Lincoln, we helped out with various ensembles during and after school and even supported the pep band.

Here is what the schedule was like:
Monday- Mariachi

Tuesday- Pop Music

Thursday- Lessons

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DeVotchKa gives a helping hand to Instrumentos!

Posted by on Feb 11, 2011 in Helping Hands | 0 comments

We’re so grateful for DeVotchKa’s help!

When: Saturday, February 12th
Where: The Fillmore Events Center
Time: 7:30 p.m.

DeVotchKa is supporting Instrumentos de la Libertad this Saturday, 2/12/11 at the Fillmore.
Instrumentos de la Libertad inc. is honored to be included by Grammy nominated, internationally renowned DeVotchKa at their concert this Saturday, February 12th at the Fillmore Events Center. Instrumentos de la Libertad, a local 501 (c(3 music education program, is being included with 6 other local, national, and international non-profit organizations in order to raise awareness and funds for these groups that make a difference.

The concert, one of DeVotchKa’s biggest events to date, is the perfect outlet to get some of the best non-profit organizations involved (M.I.A., Invisible Children, LoveHopeStrength, GlobeMed at UofC, Firefly Autism, Metro State College of Denver Food Bank, & Instrumentos de la Libertad). Both local and national groups were selected, focusing on a diverse roster to encourage as much community activism as possible.

The goal is to turn fans of the band onto local and national non-profit organizations and encourage people to give back to the community. DeVotchKa will also be sponsoring a passport-style campaign at the show to encourage fans to visit with all of the sponsors.

DeVotchKa is releasing their new album 100 Lovers (Anti-, 2011) on March 1st, 2011. The deluxe version of the record will be available for sale at the February 12th event. Tickets for the concert can be purchased on the band’s online store, http://devotchka.myshopify.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, and at the Fillmore Auditorium box office

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How to Spend $100 Million to Really Save Education

Posted by on Jan 18, 2011 in Education Policy | 0 comments

Look at number 3. Once again, Diane Ravitch is right on the money. One of the biggest reasons I made it through high school was the arts classes I was participating in. They helped keep me focused and gave me a big incentive to be there.

Click here for article!

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It’s Up To Us!

Posted by on Dec 31, 2010 in Action | 0 comments

It’s up to us now. So many of the things I took for granted growing up in the public education system, like civics class, a football team, foreign language studies, and of course the arts, are now “specials” in education. As public education goes in for more testing and privately-held education companies whose bottom line depends on test results, “specials” like the arts are thrown to the side, to expensive and to time consuming. But since studies show that a year of instrumental music lessons increase positive outcomes on tests, why are we removing this crucial developmental pathway from our public school curriculum? This is especially true when low-performing schools show a marked change when they re-introduce arts to the curriculum.  Should arts education be a tool for only those who can afford it, or should we as a culture believe in ourselves enough to make arts education important again?
I had my epiphany on the socioeconomic inequity of music education when I was helping produce an educational jazz festival. Year after year I would see bands from the suburbs and wonder where the bands from the city were. Of course we would get the great band from the single arts magnet school in the city, but 50% of those kids came from outside the city and 75% of the school were kids like me, Anglo kids whose parents had the money to get them a horn and lessons. So I got mad. I started getting horns from other musicians and giving them to kids and giving them free lessons to go with them. I convinced friends by shear strength of will to help me teach these kids. We did some great work on a wing and a prayer.
But those days are over and a new day is dawning: a day when we take this message to a higher level, to a greater number of student musicians. What’s needed now is an after-school destination, a safe environment, a place where creativity is stimulated and grown. A place where the music of Bach and Beethoven is not just listened to, it is performed. A place where American musical heroes Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington are a part of everyday discussion and instruction. In looking back at these great musicians we look forward to the musicians, leaders, and music consumers of tomorrow. Its up to us to make it happen. You can help by donating an instrument, giving some money, giving up a laptop, or volunteering some time. That’s all it will take. It’s up to us now!

Jason Justice

Executive Director, Instrumentos de la Libertad

Give a little for the New Year!


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Music and intelligence: A guide for the science-minded parent

Posted by on Dec 31, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

© 2008 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved

Is there is link between music and intelligence?

Yes, there is.

Forget the Mozart effect.

The real action seems to occur when children learn to play a musical instrument.

Music and intelligence:

The Mozart effect doesn’t cause lasting improvements in IQ

Everybody’s heard of the Mozart effect -—the notion that you can increase your intelligence by listening to Mozart’s music. Experiments have revealed that people sometimes enjoy a brief…

Click here for the article!

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To turn her middle school around, a principal invests in the arts

Posted by on Dec 30, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

by Kate Schimel

At 9:30 this morning, the principal of the Ron Brown Academy in Brooklyn stood in her school’s auditorium, watching a fight break out.

Across from her, a tall girl in a tight pink shirt slapped at the girl in front of her. Three other girls grabbed the tall one’s arms and kicked at her legs. The girls broke apart as two boys doing cartwheels chased them off stage.

The principal, Celeste Douglas, broke into applause. She was watching the teenagers — who had grins plastered to their faces, and whose fight moves had been carefully choreographed by their teachers — perform their winter dance routine.

“Music makes me feel free,” said Justin, one of the dancers, after the performance. He is a seventh grader at Ron Brown, a middle school in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Music has also provided the school with an opportunity to improve its test scores, boost attendance and jump off the state’s watch list.

Continue to article here.

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