June 6, 2018

Today Adrian talks with Victoria Lanier, the Executive Director of Education Through Music, a nonprofit in Los Angeles.  In our Kid Hero segment, Bruce Gale brings us the first part of an interview with Ana Humphrey and her Watershed Warriors initiative.

From the moment our clock radios go off in the morning, we are surrounded by music all day long.  Children are able to appreciate music from birth. This is why we sing to babies to soothe them and send them to sleep. Before infants learn to read, or even to speak, they are able to express themselves and to respond to emotional stimuli through music.

Plato once said that music “is a more potent instrument than any other for education”. You will find many teachers of young children who would agree with him. 

For decades, music was an important part of the school day for each and every child in America. Nearly every classroom in the nation’s elementary schools had a piano and most teachers were able to play simple songs so that the students could sing along to their favorites.  

Today, the trend towards cutting funds for music programs is an alarming one. While athletics are rarely touched, music is often the first to go. Elementary students no longer have the opportunity to learn an instrument or sing in a chorus. Because of that, programs in middle and high schools are affected and soon eliminated as well.  

What a shame! More and more scientific studies have touted the advantages of a music education and the reasons for saving these programs. 

Reports show that access to school music programs has dropped 50% in recent years. This is a problem for all students, but especially those from low-income families.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, almost 6 million elementary students - overwhelmingly in our highest poverty schools- have no art or music classes.

Research suggests that low-income students benefit significantly from music education, but often their families can’t afford to provide private instruction.  School music programs are the only way for these kids to enjoy the fun and benefits of music education and those opportunities are becoming harder and harder to find.

This brings us to Education Through Music Los Angeles...

Adrian and Victoria Lanier
Adrian and Victoria Lanier

Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA) believes that every child deserves access to high-quality music education, taught by qualified and well-trained music teachers.  They partner with inner-city schools to provide music as a core subject for all children, and utilize music education as a catalyst to improve academic achievement, motivation for school and self-confidence.  @etmla

They form long-term partnerships with inner-city elementary and middle schools that lack the resources for school-wide music programs. Music is taught both as a subject in its own right and as a means of supporting learning in other areas.

ETM-LA began programming in 2 schools reaching 800 students its first year to a planned 30 schools reaching approximately 14,000 students this 12th year.

Adrian sat down with the Victoria Lanier, the Executive Director of the organization, to talk about the unique model used by Education Through Music and the impact on the children they serve.

Watershed Warriors Team
Watershed Warriors Team

On today’s Kid Heroes segment, Bruce Gale brings us the first part of an interview with Ana Humphrey, an 11th-grade student from Virginia. 

One of her greatest accomplishments is a program called Watershed Warriors. What began as a class project when Ana was in seventh grade has since become a nonprofit organization.  @vawatershedwarriors

Watershed Warriors focuses on serving children in high-poverty and racially and ethnically diverse schools and works with the National Parks Service and local organizations to get students into wetlands to learn science, have fun, increase their environmental knowledge, and serve their communities.  Through the program, high school students pair with local fifth graders to promote environmental awareness with hands-on experiments in community wetlands. 

Ana, the 17-year-old T.C. Williams High School junior, was one of Virginia’s Outstanding STEM award recipients for 2018. Gov. Ralph Northam presented Humphrey with the STEM Phenom Award at a ceremony in Richmond on March 1.   In addition to Watershed Warriors, the award highlighted two other science projects Humphrey has been working on for years – an app that monitors E. coli colonies in water supplies and an astronomy research project focusing on exoplanets.

Watershed Warriors has engaged more than 475 students from mostly low-income communities throughout the region since its onset in 2014