What's Happening?

What's Happening?

CHIME Uses Music Literacy to Build Community

An innovative program is using ensemble-based music education to help underserved youth develop a strong sense of personal identity and community. Called CHIME, the program is offered by the Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) and, in its first year, is reaching 75 low-income K-6 grade students at Yates Magnet Elementary School.

NewsCHIME.jpgWith the assistance of an $80,000 grant from The Schenectady Foundation, CHIME is providing free, daily afterschool music instruction inspired by El Sistema, a "social justice first" program from Venezuela that uses the model of an orchestra to teach children about community.

After a healthy snack and brief exercise, students engage in a series of rotations including music theory, chorus, ensemble practice, and small group lessons. Ensemble practice, unlike a private lesson, helps students learn to rely on each other and look to one another for support and guidance. Friends and families will be invited to "Casual Concerts" every Friday.

CHIME grew out of ESYO’s desire to expand its City Instruments Training Program (CITP), which, for 17 years, has provided free, private music instruction to underserved children during the school day. Last year, CITP reached 35 children, only 15 of who were in Schenectady. Through music education, students learn discipline, dedication, and respect, and learn how to better work together while also improving their critical thinking skills and academic performance.

El Sistema founder Jose Abreu noted: "The main point is not so much to learn how to play music as how to live. When children play music together, all differences in class, in race--everything--they disappear. For a child, it gives the message that unity and harmony in the world are possible."

CHIME is under the direction of Program Director John Connolly. Mr. Connolly is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is a passionate advocate of the Sistema movement. He served for three years as lead teacher for England’s Sistema-inspired In Harmony program. During that time, he was selected to tour Venezuela with the directors of the six English-based Sistema programs and in 2014, was chosen as the lower brass teacher for Sistema Europe at its annual summer music camp in Istanbul.  Mr. Connolly has enjoyed an active performance schedule and has played with some of the UK’s leading orchestras including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

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