Last Thursday, students, parents and educators at PS 196 celebrated their new relationship with Education Through Music, a group that provides music education to nearly 34,000 students in 65 New York City public schools.
ETM hires, trains and mentors music teachers at every participating school. According to PS 196 principal Janine Colon, their new music teacher is at the school three days a week, and every class sees her once a week.
The teacher also stays after school once a week to work with the school choir. Colon said the partnership is already starting to have an impact on her students.
“I find that students are definitely more engaged in learning, they’re more motivated,” she said. “They like the different activities and the way we’re teaching. They’re excited to come to school, and our test scores went up.”
Colon added that some students say it gives them energy, while others say it relaxes them. Overall, the program has made students happy, she said.
“Music can have a big impact on people,” she said. “It brings people together.”
PS 196 is in the third year of a federal magnet grant program, which provides additional funding that allows the school to work with groups like ETM.
Because the school’s theme is communication and mixed media arts, PS 196 has worked with organizations that teach art, theater, media and soon, ballroom dancing. Colon said their program also incorporates elements of science, technology, engineering arts and math (STEAM).
Richard Bernstein, chairman of Education Through Music, said the best way the organization connects with schools is through word of mouth. PS 196 was no exception.
Bernstein spoke about the positive effects of having music education, including increased attendance, better academic scores and that students become “terrific collaborators.”
“When they’re in band or chorus, they learn to work with one another, which is such an important tool today,” he said. “Of course, we’re helping them become lifelong learners. We spark creativity because that’s what music is all about.”
Bernstein added that they and their partnering schools don’t consider their mission a privilege, but instead a responsibility.
“Our partners recognize the importance and value of music, not as an accessory to core learning, but as integral to the learning itself,” he said.
Councilman Antonio Reynoso recalled the impact that arts classes had on his own education.
As a student at JHS 50, Reynoso joked that he learned he couldn’t sing. But he got into dancing, drawing and painting thanks to a talent class, and all of those artforms are still important to him today.
“I really think this is what enlivens these kids, truly opens their minds and gives them the opportunity to grow,” Reynoso said.