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Music In Your World Brings Music Education to Evanston Preschoolers
"Equitable access to a complete education is a human right."
–League of American Orchestras, July 2020
Even pre-COVID, access to music education was limited and under threat in our schools. Music education resources are likely to be further threatened as the public sector and school finances reel in the post-COVID economy. As professional and amateur musicians, audience members, and volunteers, we know intuitively and from research that participation in music later in life is directly attributable to access to music education at the earliest age. Music has the capacity to bring joy and mood enhancement to all ages as well as help with developing the brain patterns for learning in the very young.
The Evanston Symphony Orchestra is proud of our 20-year history in bringing free music education with Music In Your World to vulnerable Evanston preschoolers at District 65’s Head Start, Pre-K for All, Early Head Start, and Early Start programs. Our two wonderful music educators, Charles Taylor and Matthew Perutz have taught our preschoolers and their families for a number of years, and their work is much appreciated by the teachers and administrators at District 65’s Family Center at the Joseph Hill building.
"I believe that music is an essential and often underutilized aspect of early childhood, so I greatly enjoy bringing it into the classrooms and my students' lives," said Matt Perutz. "If I have just one goal, it is to show that music can benefit almost anybody, of any age. I believe that music can start a positive feedback loop, where it can spark so many pro-social parts of life, like interpersonal connection, self-expression, and joy. I see families and classes that I work with gaining tools that they will use every day."
Our classes have children singing, clapping, and dancing along to music, and even playing small instruments. Songs are a wonderful way to learn about language, and singing also slows down language for children to hear the different sounds that make up words. Teachers report on the mood improvement that our classes bring, and singing together teaches the value of cooperation and joint effort. Musicians from our orchestra volunteer on the days we bring quarter-sized violins into the classroom, and we know that there are students studying violin now in 5th or 6th grade who held their very first violin in our classes.
Many of our classes moved online during the 2020-2021 school year, but we are starting to bring classes back to the classroom. We will also continue the music classes for families that have proved so popular during the last two years when families were isolated. Music In Your World is very much here to stay.
“I wanted to personally thank you for offering our 300+ families at the Early Childhood Center the opportunity to learn music and be together as a family. The services the ESO and Mr. Taylor [our music teacher] have provided to our center are amazing and immeasurable. We serve Evanston preschoolers that are in the low socioeconomic brackets, and Music Night with Mr. Taylor is an escape to fill their nights with wonderful music and a time to learn and enjoy together,” said Claudia Renteria, Parent Engagement Specialist, District 65.