Metro students to get affordable private music lessons in pilot program

There are often two barriers to students who want to go further in music: the expense of an instrument and the expense of private lessons. Thanks to our incredible partners at the Country Music Association, the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and many others, we are able to provide school-owned instruments to around 85% of our band and orchestra students. And now thanks to a new grant from the D'Addario Foundation, we can offer some students music lessons, too.

Music Makes Us: Bell to Bell Excellence is a pilot program designed to provide affordable private lessons for middle school band students. To start this program, 30 students in two schools will have the opportunity to take private or semi-private lessons for 36 weeks (18 weeks per semester) with a qualified instructor. These private lessons normally cost $15-20 per session. Students will be asked to pay just $5 per lesson. Grant funds will support the balance of the cost.

This is a pilot program that will be in two schools in the 2014-15 school year: Two Rivers Middle Prep and John Early Museum Magnet Middle Prep.

Two Rivers has a robust music program, with classes in band, orchestra, guitar and general music. In the past, they have had many students taking private lessons, and many students moving on to one of Metro School’s most decorated high school music programs at McGavock High School. Two Rivers has been through a transition in recent years, with demographic shifts and changes in staffing. The music programs are now in the process of rebuilding and are in need of support.

At John Early, 86% of students come from economically disadvantaged homes. The band program was reestablished in 2012, and there is a new commitment to music as a means of self-expression, positive social and emotional benefits and impact on the overall well being of students.

The private lessons will target beginning and intermediate players. Teachers will identify students based on potential, motivation, interest, and need for ensemble growth.

Students selected to participate will commit to:

  • Practicing 2 hours per week outside of class
  • Participating in other activities, such solo and ensemble and all region, as appropriate
  • Serving as a model to other students in the ensemble through exemplary behavior, work ethic, and generosity to their peers by sharing what they learn

Private teachers will be vetted and selected from a pool of qualified candidates, taking advantage of Nashville’s network of musicians.

There are three goals for this project:

  1. improve students’ musical abilities
  2. provide the ancillary benefits associated with being engaged in music
  3. sustain their interest and motivation so they will continue to stay engaged in music

We hope to achieve these goals by augmenting classroom instruction with personalized support for beginning and intermediate students who show interest and motivation, but who are unable to afford private lessons.

This is part of our effort to address why students leave music programs between middle and high school. We believe some students leave music because they have not achieved a level of success that might motivate them to continue at the next level.

A recent 2013 study examining the impact of music on students in Metro Nashville Public Schools shows that increased music participation has important direct and indirect effects on positive outcomes in student achievement and engagement. Overall, the study shows that the more a student participates in music, the more positive these benefits become.