Miami Music Project Turns Hope Into Action

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Miami Music Project Turns Hope Into Action

Amid the chaos caused by COVID-19, the future is uncertain. Currently, only "essential businesses" are open, public gatherings are banned, and our only opportunity for human connection is through our phones. However, this pandemic looks and feels different for everyone. Income gaps, access to healthcare, and multi-generational households all have a dramatic impact on the day-to-day experience of families. For many in our community, and communities around the country, distancing is causing more than a striking level of boredom. Instead, it is creating personal, mental, and emotional crises rooted in the deep social inequities of our economy.

What is deemed essential is not decided by those most vulnerable, but by those in the safest positions. This is why community organizations are empowering themselves to fulfill these needs created by vacated services from the pandemic. Miami Music Project is doing just that: using music to support families and empower children to reach their full potential.

In this time of crisis and uncertainty, we often turn to the arts, especially music, looking for a sense of stability and normalcy, emotional relief, comfort and hope. Throughout history, music has always served as a creative medium, soothing our souls, and providing solace in the expressive works that make social distancing not only more bearable but also enjoyable. But can music also help bridge the gap and lack of access for those with fewest resources and most need? Can music help bring true social change, development, opportunity and access with no barriers of race or economic status? The Miami Music Project knows this to be true and is transforming the lives of their students, teaching them harmony literally and figuratively, through building their skills and confidence needed for success in life.

Miami Music Project is known for their heralded free after-school music program. However, they adapted once COVID-19 began to impact the community, acting quickly to elect Board Chair and Vice-Chair Maria Pia Leon and Daniel Mazanec. Under their leadership, bold and urgent decisions were made, helping ensure supporting underserved communities remained the utmost priority of the organization. As a result, Miami Music Project kept all staff and Teaching Artists employed and shifted all after-school programming to a temporary virtual space by reinventing its methodology to be applicable online and retraining the faculty. Miami Music Project Connect has been now fully operational for few weeks, providing hundreds of kids from Miami's most under-resourced neighborhoods with a variety of daily class offerings and support materials.

"From the very beginnings of Miami Music Project, we've made a strong commitment to our local artists and musicians who teach for us, making sure they are always compensated at competitive levels for their hard, skilled work", said Anna Klimala, the Executive Director. "Through this pandemic, our Teaching Artists have continued to share their expertise and knowledge of music with our students, leading them, and making sure the music, the learning, and securing of bright futures for themselves does not stop! The decisions taken by the Board, in the time of unprecedented crisis and unknown future, show how every single person involved is a human asset to this great organization". Miami Music Project fully intends to maintain the new online virtual learning format until schools reopen; now also envisioning their summer music camp to also be online.

"It seems clear to me that when we emerge from this crisis, music will play a role in healing us spiritually. It will literally bring our physically-and-financially-wounded-selves together", Chairwoman Maria Pia Leon says regarding how she plans to navigate through this challenging time. "Our challenge today is to understand which path will allow us to adapt to what may be a new order of things. When it comes to fundraising, our aim is to communicate to our donors that they are investing in human capital where there is only room for growth!"

The children of the Miami Music Project belong to the demographics hit the hardest by all of this. However, as reflected by the words of Margarita Avila-Moya, one these student's parents, the positive effects the program are laid bare, as well as its importance in her daughter's life:

"Victoria was just accepted into Cornell University! I truly believe the Miami Music Project had a significant impact on this outcome! The consistency and discipline given to her between school and the Miami Music Project during the last seven years kept her motivated, with the latter always being the highlight of her week. This institution brings not only a social transformation through music but also the perfect way for students to achieve their maximum potential. My daughter Victoria is very proud to have been part of the Miami Music Project."

Stories like these always provide a shining light during dark times. With the continued support of our donors and our community, we can continue to invest in Miami's youth and their future, provide them with hope and tools needed for success. Together, even during times like these, we can show that Miami isn't just a city, but a community, and a family. Even when we're isolated, we are still connected through the social transformation that music brings.

About the Miami Music Project

The Miami Music Project creates opportunity and access through their after-school programming, with no barriers of race or economic status, for those with fewer resources and the greatest needs. Emerging as a model for music education programs nationally, the Miami Music Project has reached over 30,000 children and youth across Miami-Dade County, becoming one of the largest socially transformative music initiatives in the US.

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