Why Music Education is Essential for Underserved Schools

By Taryn Finley, HuffPost Black Voices

Sway Calloway knows firsthand the life lessons kids receive while learning to play instruments.

Mastering the song flute, clarinet and alto saxophone fostered a love for music that he eventually turned into a career as one of the most well-known hip-hop journalists today.

“What I learned from music is a lot about melody and that’s how I communicate,” the Oakland native told HuffPost, citing his interview strategy. “I learned a lot about rhythm and as I got older, I learned how to make that translate into social skills, how to communicate with people, how to talk to folks, when you talk to folks, when you jump out, when you interject.”

He may not professionally play an instrument today, but music education opened up doors for Calloway ― whose family was on public assistance when he was younger ― that he may not have found otherwise. Music programs in schools have been proven to keep students engaged in the classroom; improve early cognitive development, math and reading skills; develop critical thinking skills; and foster confidence among students, according to the National Association of Music Merchants.

Sway Calloway speaks on stage at VH1 Save the Music 20th Anniversary Gala in NYC. (Jason Kempin via Getty Images)

But despite the lasting impact music education has on students, many children in low-income communities still don’t have access to it. That’s why Calloway and the board members and team behind VH1 Save The Music Foundation have been working to bring music programs to underserved schools.

Since the nonprofit was founded in 1997, VH1 Save The Music Foundation has allotted grants to more than 2,000 public schools in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. These grants have benefited more than 2 million kids. Recently, students in Newark, New Jersey, and Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in West Virginia received $45,000 worth of musical equipment from the program.

Chiho Feindler, senior director of programs and policy, said the foundation has not only benefitted students and their communities by bringing marching bands and orchestras to their cities, but also by improving graduation rates and reducing absenteeism.

″[Rewards vary from] a student telling us that in his home life, it’s just such a chaos that being able to play flute on his stoop for his young siblings just brings a peace into his home to better graduation rates to the student who’s now interning to go to college studying music education,” Feindler said. “Stuff like that and just … giving them the reasons to thrive.”

Learn more about VH1 Save The Music Foundation by visiting its website.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Chance The Rapper Finally Won A Grammy. Then Another One.

From: Huffington Post Black Voices

Written by: Lilly Workneh

Chance The Rapper received the Grammy for Best Rap Performance with the track “No Problem.” The win marks the 23-year-old Chicago native’s first Grammy award win in his young, prominent career, in only his first year of Grammy eligibility.

KEVIN WINTER VIA GETTY IMAGES

As Lilly Workneh writes in her article, Chance used his second win of the night to give an impassioned speech:

“‘Glory be to God. I claim this victory in the name of the Lord,’ he said onstage accepting the award for Best New Artist. The rapper also acknowledged what the accomplishment means to him as an independent artist. ‘I know that people think independence means you do it by yourself but independence means freedom. I do it with these folks right here’ he said.”

Chance went on to win three Grammys over the course of the night. Read more about Chance’s historic evening in the full article here.

Read about hip-hop as a gateway to black poetry here.

Read more Breaking News here.

This Day in Black History: Jazz Singer Ella Fitzgerald is Born

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald

This date in 1918 marks the birth of Ella Fitzgerald. She was an African American jazz singer from Newport News, Virginia.

Considered one of the greatest singers in jazz history, Fitzgerald moved as a child with her mother and her stepfather to Yonkers, New York. As a teenager, she began winning amateur talent contests at the Harlem Opera House and its nearby competitor, the Apollo Theater. This recognition led to an invitation to sing with noted drummer and band leader Chick Webb at the Savoy Ballroom. Upon Webb’s death in 1939, Fitzgerald became leader of the band.

By the 1940s, Ella Fitzgerald had established the style that made her famous: a warm and lovely voice, unfailingly accurate pitch, superb clarity of diction, and an irresistible sense of swing. In the 1950s, she began a series of songbook recordings, interpreting classics by Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, and others. She also made collaborative recordings with legendary band leaders such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. She earned 14 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967), a number of honorary doctorates, and other prizes, and she gave generously to charitable and humanitarian causes.

She achieved spectacular success in bringing jazz into mainstream American culture and was rightly dubbed the “First Lady of Song.” Ella Fitzgerald died in 1996; a year later her son and attorney presented her archives to the Smithsonian Institution, which in 1998 opened an exhibition on her life and contributions.

From the African American Registry