Kate M. Ransom
A new year is upon us – what it will bring?
The past few brought unexpected circumstances. The world reeled to meet public health challenges. Social strife reached a new pitch. Discourse became shrill, and the divide seemed to deepen. Many of us wonder how we will find middle ground.
What do arts and education have to do with that?
Arts and education organizations live out objectives and purposes that unify, encouraging people to THINK, to FEEL, to SEE, to LISTEN — learn about the past and envision the future. They challenge us to acknowledge differences and celebrate diversity — a window on the vast melting pot of the world.
The arts show us that blending cultural influences can delight, surprise and move us.
Like so many creative musical minds, Lin Manuel Miranda, for example, showed us that combined styles from many cultures can be exquisite, as can the expression of distinct, individual cultural styles. Diverse “languages” in unified chorus yield a new voice in the world, and of the world.
Presently, we are called to THINK, FEEL, SEE, LISTEN and SHARE. At The Music School of Delaware, we advance our mission that for nearly a century has been MUSIC for EVERYONE. This tenet hails from 1923, when civic leaders and community members brought the organization to life to be accessible to all. Financial aid scholarships and inclusive community ensembles date back to the earliest years.
Why we offer this column:In creating this space, we witnessed huge impact arts played in our community
Today, the arts are made accessible and available to all at the Music School. Recent efforts have taken on new dimension.
Becoming a statewide school has made access to music convenient and easy for more people. Locations in Wilmington, Milford, Dover, Pike Creek, Newark, Hockessin, Felton, and Lewes bring excellent instruction and ensembles to more neighborhoods and communities.
Partnerships with more than 20 elementary and pre-schools, middle and high schools and, in collaboration with Capital and Red Clay School Districts, make high-quality, weekly instruction possible for nearly 1200 children.
The Music School draws infants, preschoolers, students from 185 public and private schools, homeschoolers, and over 300 adults. Thousands of people attend Music School performances every year, and now our livestreamed performances have been viewed around the world.
Against the COVID-19 backdrop, we initiated our MELODY program (Music Enriching the Lives of Delaware Youth). Since fall 2020, with two venue partners (St. Peter Cathedral School in downtown Wilmington, and the EDGE Program at Covenant Presbyterian Church in north Wilmington) we are engaging inner-city and underserved Wilmington youth in a transformational three-hour after-school program.
Music, violin and cello instruction are complemented by a daily meal, homework help, and social skill-building elements. Kindergarten and first graders who began in 2020 continued into 2021 as a new cohort of youngsters joined.
In the decade ahead, 100 or more children will constitute the MELODY youth ensemble. With no tuition, MELODY brings to these children a mind-expanding, skill- and confidence-building opportunity to excel.
It does not stop with the children. Their families, schoolmates, teachers, friends and neighbors are encouraged to attend their performances, watch them grow, advance and achieve impressive results – engendering community pride in their achievements.
The Music School has programs for people of all abilities. Group and individual Music Therapy sessions serve people with special circumstances. Those on the autism spectrum often are mainstreamed into early childhood classes, ensemble programs and lessons. Partners like Mary Campbell Center tap us as a resource for group music therapy activities.
We help advance a vibrant Delaware arts landscape, as the state’s largest provider of year-round employment for musicians — with a faculty of 90 instructors, presenting over 120 public performances annually.
Recently, a new festival began at the school — Serafin Summer Music. Each June, world class ensemble performers from around the United States arrive to collaborate for three weeks of performances in Wilmington and Lewes. The resulting social engagement is a magnet that brings people out and about, and audience members discover the arts rich environment in our state.
The Music School’s new year brings exciting announcements from our Board of Directors. With the school’s centennial on the horizon in 2025, we are crafting plans to celebrate a century of service and open the doors to a vibrant and thriving future.
Friends, families and donors year after year encourage us with their support and recommit us to the principles of inclusiveness and access for all. We celebrate diversity and offer arts experiences as an entitlement for EVERYONE.
Experience the arts with us at The Music School of Delaware!
Kate M. Ransom is president and CEO of The Music School of Delaware.