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Bay Area Music Project Leads Initiatives Internationally

Helen Newby '15

The Bay Area Music Project (BAMP) is at the forefront of community music education, partnering with organizations and reaching out to those who can benefit most from a communal sense of learning in areas of need. And not just locally in San Francisco, but in other countries, as well. A program that takes place four days a week in the West End of Alameda, BAMP serves a diverse community of children in an El Sistema-inspired approach to teaching.

SFCM is a partner of the Bay Area Music Project. Faculty members and students participate in projects ranging from tutoring to music-making across nations. “Bay Area Music project is creating a learning environment singularly focused on empowering the community through music education,” says MaryClare Brzytwa, an SFCM faculty member who is also on BAMP’s board of directors. “SFCM students have had the invaluable experience of sharing their skills and expertise with a younger generation while simultaneously supporting their own artistic pursuits in the community in which they live. I'm very proud to be involved with both organizations (SFCM and BAMP) and see the benefits to students from both institutions. Whether working with SFCM’s Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) students to record a long distance choir of children in Haiti and Alameda or coordinating teaching positions for SFCM students at Bay Area Music Project through our Conservatory in the Schools program, I am excited to be a part of this thriving musical partnership.”

BAMP began a cultural and musical exchange with Music Heals International in Port-au-Prince, Haiti last spring. SFCM faculty member Dren McDonald flew to Haiti to work with and record choral music in English and Haitian Creole with local children to create a record project with local children in the Bay Area. SFCM student Charles Sehres taught BAMP children during a full day of recording in Osher Salon, which provided the other half of the recording. ”My involvement with the Bay Area Music Project was an exceptional experience,” says Sehres. “Not only was I able to gain real world experience in collaboratively helping record music, I was most importantly assisting in bringing a worthy project to fruition.”

Helen Newby, an SFCM alumna, is involved with BAMP through the Conservatory in the Schools program. “Bay Area Music Project provides music to a community that otherwise would likely not have access,” says Newby. “This program, and the process of learning a new instrument, imparts so many important life skills, namely how to listen, how to be patient, and how to work as a group. In my role, I get to work with kids who have either been playing for one year or are just starting cello for the first time. Seeing the looks on some of their faces when they're holding a cello for the first time is a really incredible experience, and I feel so lucky that I get to play a small part in bringing music into their lives.”

For more information, visit the Bay Area Music Project on the web.