Schools everywhere are losing their arts and music programs due to budget cuts. Children are missing out on crucial learning and developmental skills that are gained through participation in these programs. Gardner Street Elementary School, one of the sites that Youth Policy Institute (YPI) supports, is a strong believer in providing children with the opportunity to expand their knowledge through music.
With the help of YPI’s Educational Technology Department, Gardner Street Elementary School opened the Michael Jackson Music Lab (MJML), a computer lab equipped with keyboards at every station. It is one of 80 YPI public computer centers throughout Los Angeles.
“The goal of the Michael Jackson Music Lab is to provide music training for every single child in the school, from kindergarten through 6th grade. Reaching every student is an ambitious, even revolutionary goal - it means every child will have a chance to learn music, not just a few selected by their parents or by teachers at the school,” commented Garby Leon of Friends of Gardnerville, a nonprofit partner.
Some students enjoy the curriculum so much that they come to the lab almost every recess and lunch to either work on the software or play the piano and/or sing.
“Daniel, a fourth grader, is an example of a kid who hasn’t taken any music lessons, but is so dedicated here that he is now starting to play songs with both hands on the piano after completing Children's Music Journey 1, 2 and 3 and now he is starting to explore Piano Suite,” stated Paula Stefanini, STAR Teacher.
All students at Gardner Street Elementary School have the opportunity to learn a new skill and teach themselves the basic tenants of playing the piano. “In a larger sense the Michael Jackson Music Lab looks to change the way music has been taught for 500 years, with one student and one teacher in a studio. Instead it allows us to broaden training to a classroom of students and even to a whole school of students, but with each student having a personal experience and progressing at her or his own rate,” remarked Leon.