Paterson Music Project Blog: Voices of the Silk City by Elizabeth Moulthrop | November 2019
The Paterson Music Project (PMP) is a program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts that empowers children to achieve their full potential through the joyful pursuit of musical excellence. Inspired by the global El Sistema movement, PMP uses music education as a vehicle for social change in its home city of Paterson.
This season, chamber music is alive and well at PMP—and growing by leaps and bounds. In addition to choir, orchestra, band, and percussion ensembles, students at the Paterson Music Project have the opportunity to participate in this centuries-old art form of small ensemble music making, and the PMP String Quartet is taking off and headed places. Although Wharton Arts strives to give the gift of music education to these students in Paterson, the true gift is what we all receive when these students come together and play from their hearts. Read on to find out more…
Did you know that the Paterson Music Project has a string quartet that performs at over 20 events per year? Well, sometimes it’s a quartet…sometimes it’s a septet! There are alternates on most of the parts, so if someone can’t attend an event, there is a backup performer. The players meet on a weekly basis to learn new repertoire and practice for performances. They usually walk from school to the PMP office together and practice for 1-2 hours with their coach, Ms. Shanna. They also sometimes practice on Saturdays. Ms. Shanna has been coaching the group for the past three years and volunteers her time to make it happen.
Meet the members: Hector, Akeira, Haley, Geanelly, Rachael, Aleric, and Eddie. They are all in grades 6-9 and have been with PMP for at least 4 years. All the musicians in the quartet take private lessons at PMP through the Honors Program. They are also all members of the Montclair State University Extension Division Saturday Program. There are even two sets of siblings within the group. They have a lot of fun when they get together!
This fall alone, the group has eight concerts! They are performing sometimes as often as once a week. This is in addition to regularly scheduled PMP concerts with the larger PMP Concert Orchestra. Recent events include performing at the Paterson State of the City Address by the Mayor, Habitat for Humanity’s Taste of Paterson event, and the Paterson MLK Park Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
You can catch the quartet next at the New Jersey Youth Symphony Chamber Music Concert on November 17 at 7pm at the Chatham United Methodist Church.
PMP is an El Sistema-inspired Program. What is El Sistema, anyway?
El Sistema is a visionary global movement that transforms the lives of children through music. Founded in Venezuela in 1975, El Sistema is a tested model of how a music program can both create great musicians and dramatically change the lives of hundreds of thousands of children throughout the world. The Venezuelan model of using music as a vehicle for social change has been adopted across the world. El Sistema programs create access to high quality music education through local and affordable (usually free) programs. Students learn from specialized Teaching Artists, perform frequently, and the programs are deeply embedded in the greater community. Paterson Music project is a member of El Sistema USA and the El Sistema NJ Alliance.
The Paterson Music Project provides tuition-free musical training to students throughout Paterson after school. Students study a primary instrument and participate in ensemble practice and instrumental sectionals. They receive an average of 6 hours of instruction per week and in addition, may participate in an optional private lesson program. Students perform frequently for the community and perform an average of 30 events annually.
PMP launched its first site at the Community Charter School (CCSP) of Paterson in January 2013 with 32 second graders and has since added a new class of students each year. Since its inception, PMP has partnered with the Paterson Public Schools to open programming to students at Paterson Public Schools 1, 24, and 26. PMP has also partnered with William Paterson University’s Music After School Program to create a central band site at the Norman S. Weir School to serve over 60 students. There are now over 250 students in the program across the city of Paterson grades 2-9. PMP also runs a Saturday program at the Rosa Parks Fine and Performing Arts High School in Paterson.
To attend a Paterson Music Project concert, make a donation, or become a volunteer, contact PMP Director Elizabeth Moulthrop at email@example.com.
Giving Tuesday and three things you didn’t know about Development with Elizabeth Piercey, Director of Development
Wharton Arts has a new Director of Development: Elizabeth Piercey stepped into the position after three years as the organization’s grant writer, managing all grant proposals to foundations, corporations, and government agencies. Under Piercey’s stewardship, Wharton Arts has experienced significant advancement towards garnering support for its programs, including a 115% increase in grant revenue in her first year—highlights include major gifts for the Paterson Music Project’s tuition-free after-school programming from the National Endowment for the Arts and Impact 100 Garden State. This year Wharton Arts also received a Catalyst Fund Grant from the League of American Orchestras to support its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives.
Q: What are the main functions of the Development office?
A: The Development office is responsible for raising contributed income for the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Paterson Music Project, and Performing Arts School. Tuition and fees only covers 70% of the cost of classes, ensembles, concerts, and other programs. Therefore, we fundraise to make our programs possible. This year, our goal is to raise $1.163 million.
Q: Wow! That’s quite an impressive figure. To that end, what are the big events or projects happening in Development this year?
A: Our special events are a particularly important component to reaching our fundraising goal! These include:
- West Side Story in Paterson Gala Friday, March 6 at Westmount Country Club
- Playathon Sunday, March 29 at The Mills at Jersey Gardens
- Mother’s Day 5K Sunday, May 10 at Memorial Field in Berkeley Heights
Q: Is there anything new happening in Development that is a departure from previous years?
A: Our gala is going to be really exciting this year. The theme is “West Side Story in Paterson” in response to Steven Spielberg’s re-release of the classic film, which was filmed in Paterson—the home, of course, of our Paterson Music Project. In addition, the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Jamie Bernstein, the daughter of Leonard Bernstein who composed the music for West Side Story.
Q: And last but not least, Giving Tuesday is just around the corner! What does Wharton Arts hope to accomplish this year? (For those of you who may not know, Giving Tuesday is a global movement of charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season. Celebrated every year on the Tuesday following U.S. Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is fueled by the power of social media and the hashtag #GivingTuesday.)
A: This year for Giving Tuesday we’re raising funds for Wharton Players, Paterson Music Project, and the New Jersey Youth Symphony Playathon. Look for our social media posts—we hope to raise $3,000!
To make a donation to the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts and its programs, CLICK HERE.
Elizabeth Piercey has been on the Development team of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts since 2016. She is an arts administrator with over ten years of experience in supporting fund development in non-profit arts and social service organizations. Piercey graduated from Drexel University with a master’s in Arts Administration.
The new PAS Referral Program and four things you didn’t know about Student Services with Kristen Wuest, Director of Student Services
Wharton Arts has a new Director of Student Services: Kristen Wuest took on the expansive role this season after serving in various administrative capacities at Wharton Arts for over 7 years. Wuest joined the faculty of the Performing Arts School as a flute instructor in 2007 when it was then the Suburban Community Music Center (SCMC) in New Providence.
Says Wuest, “I had just graduated with my undergraduate degree and was very pleased to learn that SCMC was looking for a flute instructor. I started with a small studio of six flute students and in the spring of 2012 stepped into Student Services part-time. The role evolved organically. Today, I’m in the Student Services office over 30 hours a week with Skye Pasek as my assistant.”
Q: What are the main functions of Student Services?
A: Student Services facilitates relationships with new and current families, supervises faculty, and manages programming at the Performing Arts School. Finding the right teacher and program for new students is crucial, and we pride ourselves in guiding families towards what is best for their needs, and pairing them with the instructor that is the perfect fit. We also assist with online registration for the New Jersey Youth Symphony and Paterson Music Project when needed, as well as answer inquiries about all of our programs at the main office in Berkeley Heights.
Q: What is something about Student Services that may not be obvious to an outsider?
A: Student Services not only strives to grow enrollment and retain existing students at the Performing Arts School, but we are truly the first responders for the organization. Whether it’s moving a piano, handling a billing issue, assisting a sick student, or contacting emergency services—all of these things and more are filtered through Student Services. We always have a first aid officer on premises with CPR training and staff look to us in emergency situations.
Q: Whew. That’s a lot. What else does Student Services handle beyond customer support?
A: We play a big part in programming for the Performing Arts School. Almost all new educational initiatives originate or are co-created with Student Services. We also produce all of the events at the Performing Arts School.
Q: What are some of the benefits that Performing Arts School students receive from having access to Student Services?
A: It can be overwhelming for a family new to the study of music to navigate through choosing the right private teacher. To take one example, we are fortunate to have ten piano instructors at the Performing Arts School with all different teaching styles and personalities. We offer this wide range of options when it comes to instructors because it allows students to be matched with a teacher that will be a good fit—and if it is not, there are alternatives available. Every student is different and looking for something specific to study, and we strive to provide the best experience possible. We love getting to know each and every family that walks through our doors and as a lifelong musician myself, I have a deep understanding of the performing arts which I tap into on a daily basis to help families get started.
Q: The Performing Arts School recently launched a Referral Program (read about it here). What can you tell us about that?
A: The highest percentage of new students at the Performing Arts School come from word-of-mouth referrals. Without our community’s support, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. The need to reward our student families with an incentive became apparent, and we want to encourage them to continue to spread the word about our mission and exemplary programming in performing arts education.
Concludes Wuest, “As an alumna of the New Jersey Youth Symphony (1999-2003), Wharton Arts is my second home. I am extremely proud to work for such an incredible organization and every day I come to work happy that I get to help provide students with the same amazing experience I received as a young musician.”
Drop by Student Services and say hello—you may even find a jar of candy waiting for you along with a welcoming smile.
Kristen Wuest, a New Jersey Youth Symphony alumna who served as principal flute for two years, has been playing the flute since the age of nine. She performed with the New Jersey Youth Symphony in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in May 2003. Read more here.