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New Children's Book, 'Who Is Florence Price?' By Students At Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School, To Be Published By Schirmer Books

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Florence Price the first Black woman composer to be performed by a major orchestra.

New Children's Book, 'Who Is Florence Price?' By Students At Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School, To Be Published By Schirmer Books

Kaufman Music Center has announced the publication of Who is Florence Price?, a children's book written and illustrated by students at KMC's Special Music School, NYC's only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject. It will be published by Schirmer Books.

Who is Florence Price? is the only biography for lower school readers devoted to Price, who in 1933 became the first Black woman composer to be performed by a major orchestra.

The new children's book Who Is Florence Price? tells the story of a brilliant musician who prevailed against race and gender prejudices to become the first Black woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer and performed by a major American orchestra in 1933. The book was written and illustrated by 45 middle school students at Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School, NYC's only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject.

The project began when English teacher Shannon Potts realized that there were no materials about Price's life at the lower school reading level. The students studied Price's biography and mapped out her life story on a wall, discussing which elements were most important to the narrative for their intended audience at the approximately third grade level. After collaboratively writing and revising the text, the students created the illustrations, beginning with backgrounds of cut paper. The book was originally self-published as a classroom project shortly before the pandemic shut down NYC in the spring of 2020 and has been revised for the 2021 release.

Kaufman Music Center's Executive Director Kate Sheeran says, "We're so proud of our Special Music School students for taking the initiative to create this book, which is a beautiful example of what can happen when we remove barriers to music education. A comprehensive music education from the earliest grades opens doors and helps children make connections between disciplines."

"Who is Florence Price? is a very special project for Wise Music Group," says Robert Thompson, President of their Schirmer Books division. "It celebrates the power of storytelling and the benefits of early music education, while championing the life of a pioneering composer. We are especially proud of this release, since all book proceeds will go right back to Special Music School, to support its important music program."

Who Is Florence Price? includes a foreword by the acclaimed composer, violinist and educator Jessie Montgomery, recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and Mead Composer-in-Residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a three-year appointment that concludes at the close of the 2023-2024 season.

Jessie Montgomery says, "This book represents a snapshot into the beautiful minds of children when they are given a chance to fully investigate their history and interests. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect is how the writers were able to recognize the complex social context of Price's life, diving into the core issues of racial and gender discrimination she faced while pursuing her passion for music."

14-year-old Caden Castro-Kudler, a percussionist and co-author of Who Is Florence Price?, says, "The book definitely shows our passion for music and our passion for academics, and amalgamates all those things into this beautiful finished product. It's an unbelievable feeling to see all the work we put into this as a final product that is tangible and that we're all really proud of and love."

"In classical music there isn't a lot of diversity, and being a woman of color myself, it's inspiring to see somebody who's made it out there," says 14-year-old violinist and co-author Rebecca Beato. "I think it's important to learn about Florence Price's music and share it with the world. And it's especially important to share the message with younger generations."


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