ABOVE: Community-Embedded Musician, Dave Connor, instructs DeLUXE K!ds students
This past September, the Houston Symphony, in partnership with the 5th Ward Cultural Arts District’s DeLUXE Theater and the American Festival of the Arts (AFA), launched DeLUXE K!ds In Harmony, a community-based music education program that provides exceptional violin training and social development to elementary students from Houston’s Fifth Ward neighborhood. This intensive and transformational program aims to not only teach children how to play the violin, but also develop teamwork and leadership skills, build relationships, and feel a sense of pride and belonging to a musical community.
The program kicked off on September 26 when 13 students from the Fifth Ward, met their instructors, learned songs, were sized for violins, and performed for their friends and families. Throughout the school year, students will receive a minimum of five hours of instruction per week, both after school and on the weekends, from Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musicians (CEMs) and AFA Teaching Artists. This program can accommodate up to 25 students and admission will occur on a rolling basis until all spots are filled.
Learning to play an instrument has many social and emotional health benefits. For most classes, the students will learn in a small group setting, encouraging a sense of belonging to their ensemble and strengthening their communications skills. Throughout the year, they will also have several opportunities to perform for family and community members at DeLUXE Theater and at a lobby concert at Jones Hall. Preparing for these performances develops goal setting and follow-through skills in children and demonstrating their skills at a performance promotes self-confidence. These are just a few of the critical life skills students will gain through this program that will help them succeed both in and out of the classroom.
DeLUXE K!ds In Harmony is part of the Houston Symphony’s commitment to engage with underserved communities who are limited by economic or geographic barriers and increase the number of students studying music. The Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement initiatives are possible, in part, due to the generous donations of Symphony patrons.