Tune Up: Empowering Urban Youth Through Music

dragonballyee.comWith the help of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Stanford Thompson, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, launched Tune Up Philly, an afterschool music education program, last September in hopes of demonstrating the lasting effect ensemble music can have on the lives of urban youth.

Inspired by El Sistema, an organization started in Venezuela to transform children's lives through music, Tune Up Philly has begun its work at the St. Francis de Sales school in West Philadelphia.

Tune Up's mission is simple, “to nurture urban children living in challenging social and economic conditions by keeping them engaged in success through weekday out-of-school hour’s musical instruction.”

“I think what we’re trying to do is teach these kids about being passionate about something,” explains Thompson.  “It’s about engaging them to realize that they can do more than what they think. That’s what keeps me practicing every day.”

Roughly 85 elementary school students are learning to play instruments for the first time through Tune Up and will display their newly acquired skills at the group's second concert on March 12, beginning at 2 p.m.

“If we can show that we have put together such a compelling project that encompasses social services, education, music and arts…in one spot here in Philadelphia, we should be able to do it everywhere,” says Thompson.

Filmmaker Jamie Bernstein is also currently filming a documentary about Tune Up Philly. View the trailer after the jump.