What do George Orwell and music education philanthropy have in common?
But that's not going to stop me from trying to make a forced analogy, having been inspired by recent news out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, where a $100,000 grant from the Edward D. and Ione Auer Foundation will provide musical instruments to Fort Wayne Community Schools students.
Orwell once said, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle," suggesting that many times, the painfully obvious is standing right in front of us, though consciously or not, we choose to ignore it. His quote sprung into my head because we often give press to innovative and exciting new arts educational programs while forgetting to acknowledge the basics.
Take Little Kids Rock, for example. It's a nationally renowned music education outfit out of New Jersey, and it's doing amazing things, whether emulating the "School of Rock" approach by teaching kids that sick lick to "Smoke on the Water" or bringing their Modern Band music program to 60,000 New York City students. It's all great stuff, but as readers, we simply assume that the kids have all the foundational components to make a successful program, things like experienced teachers and musical instruments.
And we make these assumptions for other schools as well. Why, of course, the kids in Fort Wayne, Indiana have access to musical instruments.
Not so fast.
The reality is a bit more stark, particularly when districts need to spend their finite resources on, say, standardized testing preparation. (It's a concept not lost on the Fender Foundation which, as we previously noted, also offers musical instruments to qualified musical education programs.)
The program in question today is called "b instrumental." The brainchild of the Fort Wayne Community Schools Foundation, the program seeks raise $3.6 million to put 3,300 musical instruments into the hands of FWCS students over the next 12 years. The program would also provide small-group lessons and music camps for many students, as well as professional development training for music teachers. The Auer Foundation was impressed, and they funded the program to the tune of $10,000.
So there you have it. Educational nonprofits looking to close the music education gap in smaller cities have a helpful template in the Fort Wayne Community Schools Foundation's "b instrumental" program.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to write my next post juxtaposing the Gates Foundation's funding priorities with the dystopian symbolism of Animal Farm.