Music helps Southside school with education

By Amina Ismail

There are many reasons why educators encourage high school students to join band classes. Arts and music build essential skills such as creativity and innovation. But there is another important reason that many people may not have known.

Studies have indicated that high school students who participate in bands score better grades on SAT exams and are more likely to do better in college.

A case study published in 2008 by Whitworth University says that music students are academically above average. Nearly 20 percent of the students accepted in Whitworth University have played in bands during high school. Whitworth is the 9th best regional University in the West Coast, according to the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

With the financial crisis still looming and school budgets shrinking, many schools have had to cut the spending on after-school activities.

EPIC academy, a charter high school located in the Southside of Chicago lost many of its after-school programs that were funded by the government because of the city’s bad economic situation.

“But there was no way we couldn’t have drum line,” said Clarence Glenn, dean of Graduation at EPIC.

EPIC Academy insisted on bringing back drum line, not only because students liked it, but also because it had a positive impact on the students.

“We had a student who had a lot of issues in the classroom.” Glenn said. “He used to argue a lot with a lot of students. He was heading towards the path of gangs and violence, I told him come join drum line, and ever since he passed all his classes. He went from Fs to Cs.”

In addition to the academic impact, instructors say drum line is unleashing many of the students’ creativity.

“We are co-creating these pieces and there is a real sense of ownership in that,” said Michael Riendeau, drum teacher with Urban Gateways, who is teaching students at Epic academy.

“The music that we create is something that we do together. I don’t feel that I am teaching them this thing.”

Four Layer Players, the name of the school’s drum band, will perform at the House of Blues on Thursday morning. They will be performing “Mellow with a Twist,” a song they created along with Riendeau.

“It took us about two week to get ‘Mellow with a Twist’ down on paper and it took us another two weeks to get it to where we were performing it, like straight and solid,” said Tiqo Leng an Epic Academy student.

“We take so much pride into it,” he said, “because we think of it as our own little piece of art.”



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