I had a most wonderful tour today, courtesy of of the founder of the “Harmony Project.” Dr. Margaret Martin led a group of us through a couple of locations in the inner city, including Frank Del Olmo Elementary School – where youngsters are learning life skills through the study of music. Martin and her team have focused on some of the poorest areas of Los Angeles, including four of the so-called “Gang Zones” of the city. All the studies show, if you give youngsters that one-on-one attention, and include them in a project with the potential to elevate, they have the opportunity to transcend very difficult circumstances. These are children raised in areas where gangs, drugs and extreme poverty are a way of life. Today, the project is helping some 1500 kids in LA – and in Ventura. Martin believes she has developed a template that could be implemented nationally. Last year, Dr.Martin received the prestigious “Presidential Citizens Medal” in Washington D.C. for her exemplary work with Harmony.
My friends and I watched as children from elementary school to middle school age received instruction in their musical education. It was a thing of beauty to see these kids mastering instruments, reading music and delighting in their progress. There was love and structure in the classroom and the joy of achievement on the face of these students. This youth arts program gives kids a sense of purpose; raises self esteem; and builds good citizens. I hope you will read more about their outstanding work in the community.
Harmony Project website: http://www.harmony-project.org/
Some clips of Harmony Project kids practicing: