NEW YORK (PIX11) — The nonprofit The Harmony Program is tripling in size this school year from 1,000 to 3,000 students due to its growing popularity. The program provides free musical training to children in underserved New York City communities.
Nine-year-old Efranny Castro has been playing the flute for less than a year as part of The Harmony Program, but it has already struck a chord.
“It feels like you’re just talking to each other, but in musical form,” said Castro. “It makes me feel good, happy, and just natural, playing the flute for me.”
“We will reach kids as early as kindergarten, with general music and recorder,” said Harmony Program founder and executive director Anne Fitzgibbon. “They’ll start with movement and rhythm and clapping and singing.”
Fourth-grader Autumn Brazzley has been playing the trumpet for two years. “We learn new notes sometimes, every day,” said Brazzley. “And we play new songs. And it gets better.”
Brazzley’s older brother, Adam, is also a trumpet player and a Harmony success story.
“Adam started, also in Harmony, at second grade,” said his mom, Sheila Brazzley. “He went on to go to LaGuardia School of Arts.”
And Harmony teaches more than just scales and songs.
“We know that when kids are practicing music, they’re learning to listen to each other, to focus, to persist in the face of challenges, to work collaboratively with their peers toward a shared goal,” said Fitzgibbon.
Harmony is now branching out into borough-based orchestras and ensembles. The program just launched a Bronx youth orchestra, with Brooklyn and Queens orchestras in the works.
“Once the teachers and the parents and the school community see what the young people can accomplish, they want us to expand,” said Fitzgibbon. “And that’s what we’re looking to do.”
For more information on The Harmony Program, visit its website.