Notes in the Neighborhoods | City of Ideas

Posted 12/09/2012 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
We know there is a disparity in the success rate of black and Latino men in terms of education, unemployment and incarceration levels.  Currently, Berklee College of Music (Berklee) and Tufts University are pursuing research that shows that participation in music instruction can be an important tool to overcome these disparities. During the school year in Boston, significant strides are being made in coordinating efforts among the schools and music groups for after-school music education for youngsters.  There are methods to identify and place youngsters into programs, but in the summer there is no coordination.  We want to provide such a system in the summer, as well as raise awareness that the lines between what was commonly known as popular music and that of classical are now blending so that today’s musicians, be they professional or amateur, can participate in a variety of styles.  Through collaboration of The Boston Landmarks Orchestra (LO), Berklee College of Music (Berklee), The City of Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department (BPR), and Boston’s Centers for Youth and Families (BYCF), plus Raymond Instruments and Johnson Strings, we plan to address these challenges.

Project Proposed:
We will collaborate on a multi-year, 4 phased, program mostly in summer in Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester:


BPS teachers and Berklee faculty will select four 15-year-olds from target neighborhoods to attend Berklee's 5-week intensive summer music program.  

Phase 2

LO will run a minimum of six clinics in parks adjacent or near BCYF centers that will serve as audience builders and rain locations.  Each clinic will be led by two LO musicians and two Berklee faculty members, assisted by the four 15 year olds. The artistic content for the clinics will center around one composition per year: 2013- Gonzalo Grau’s (Berklee '98) Viajes, 2014 -a new work by Kenji Bunch (already commissioned by LO and Berklee), and 2015 -TBD

Phase 3

An instrument playground will be held as part of each clinic and information provided to participants for referrals for more music instruction at programs that offer scholarships for inner city youngsters in the 9 to 15 year old range.

Phase 4

The composition will be performed in a neighborhood park in the targeted area; this year as part of Berklee’s Tito Puente series since the composition is Latin based, and subsequent years to be determined.

Role of Collaboration:
The LO will manage the clinics and produce the concert. LO wants to lengthen the impact of its concerts beyond the immediate pleasure of the music they bring. Being able to provide the experience to boys and girls of what it feels like to play an instrument and then to convey information about lessons to learn how to play is one way to improve the quality of life of numerous youngsters, especially brown and black young men of Boston.

Berklee will choose the 4 young men for its Summer Program and ensure that they get as much out of this experience as they possibly can.  The opportunity for 4 young men to leave their neighborhoods and live and learn with youngsters from across America will be extraordinary.  These same black and brown young men will serve as role models for the younger audience members at each clinic.

The City of Boston’s BPR and BCYF will provide the venues for the clinics and oversee any introductions that need to take place with local camps and programs. BCYF Centers will be used as rain locations for each clinic.

It is a goal of the LO to bring the power of music into the lives of youngsters throughout the city.  For youngsters who have a genuine interest in learning how to play, staff of the Landmarks can provide information for the child to take home to his parents about both free and for a fee classes in Boston.  If the family is interested, LO staff will reach out to connect a music program with a family.  LO is committed to becoming the glue that sticks youngsters from underserved neighborhoods into existing music programs in the city.

An article in The American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Journal based on a longitudinal study of 12,000 youngsters in Pinellas, Florida described how black and Hispanic youngsters involved in music instruction had higher achievement levels than those who were not.   Berklee and Tufts are studying the affects of music education on young people with results to be published as we begin this program in 2013.  The college’s City Music for inner city youngsters has received international recognition and this program will only reinforce that.

For the City, the collaboration will provide much needed summer programming in inner city neighborhoods.

Other information:
The impetus to the Collaborate Boston initiative has enabled the entities described in this proposal to come together and think about ways it can help make Boston a better place for all people, especially young black and brown men.  The process of discussing what we can do together was invaluable to us all.

Primary Contact:
Boston Landmarks Orchestra

Founded in 2001 by Charles Ansbacher, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra is a professional orchestra dedicated to making concert music available to all. Its primary showcase is a series of summer evening performances at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. Other performances are held annually in a variety of sites of civic or historic significance. The orchestra is dedicated to collaborating with other artistic and civic organizations. The current musical director is Christopher Wilkins. A Boston native, Wilkins designed the Orchestra's 2020 vision that commits the orchestra to providing the residents of each of Boston’s 20 neighborhoods an equal opportunity to engage in its programs by the year 2020. 

Harron Ellenson is its Executive Director and has had over 40 years experience in creating civic events in the city, specifically bringing events to the neighborhoods of Boston.

Partner 1:
Berklee College of Music

The mission of Berklee College of Music is to educate, train, and develop students to excel in music as a career.
Developing the musicianship of all our students is the foundation of our curriculum. We believe that the lessons and qualities derived from that work—the self-discipline needed for excellence, the empathy required of music making and the openness and inquisitiveness essential to creativity—are critical to achievement in any pursuit, musical or otherwise; and that music is a powerful catalyst for personal growth, which is central to any collegiate experience.

Founded on jazz and popular music rooted in the African cultural diaspora, our comprehensive curriculum is distinctly contemporary in its content and approach, and embraces the principal musical movements of our time. Through a course of scholarly and practical learning experiences integrating performance and writing, our curriculum covers the variety of influential styles, relevant technologies, and career opportunities open to today's music professional.  

Berklee’s City Music and Music Clubhouse programs are ways that Berklee supports the needs of our community. These programs serve thousands of underserved students and can significantly alter the course of a young person’s life. Berklee also offers hundreds of public performances annually at the Berklee Performance Center, and other venues, and is at the core of Boston’s entertainment and cultural community.

Abria Smith will serve as the Berklee liaison for this project. She is the Interim Director of Community Affairs and Campus Engagement at the college and is the former head of its community partnerships initiative.

Partner 2:
Parks & Recreation

The Parks & Recreation Department provides residents and visitors with clean, green, safe, and accessible open space in more than 2,200 acres of parkland throughout the city.  The Department also programs a wide range of community events and live entertainment in the parks under its jurisdiction. 

Jacquelyn Goddard, Director of External Affairs and Communications, Boston Parks and Recreation Department will represent the City.

Partner 3:
Raymond Instruments, Inc. and Johnson Strings will provide instruments for us to use at the instrument playgrounds this summer.

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