Studies show that arts and music education helps children develop creativity and critical thinking skills, and contributes to intellectual development and academic achievement. Yet, many Chicago-area schools, facing budget shortfalls, have reduced or eliminated these programs all together. The Salvation Army partners with those schools to provide this essential education.
At Allesandro Volta Elementary School in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, The Salvation Army’s music program is making a difference. Principal Ted Johnson sees the benefits first hand every day in his students. In fact, Volta School and Johnson were recently recognized by the State of Illinois Board of Education for dramatically improved test scores. As a result, Johnson received a $5,000 bonus and shared it with the people and programs that contributed to that success—including The Salvation Army. The donation provided for new concert music stands and three new flutes, which were unveiled at a recent spring concert.
“I looked into offering a music program here several years ago, and I know what it takes to accomplish it,” said Johnson. “The Salvation Army offers it at no cost to us or our students. I wanted to show my appreciation.”
Students enrolled in the program meet several days a week after school and on Saturday mornings for instruction in brass, woodwinds, keyboard and drums. All instruments and instruction are provided by the Army.
“Ninety four percent of our population lives in poverty,” said Johnson. “Without the Army, these children would never have this type of access or opportunity.”
Peter Kim, Salvation Army Music School Director, said the support from Johnson is critical to the success of the program. “He really appreciates the efforts and encourages the students to embrace the opportunity,” said Kim.
In addition to the partnership with schools, The Salvation Army’s Let the Music Begin program serves more than 1.400 at-risk youth at 20 locations. Additionally, our corps community centers offer arts programs, providing instruction in instrumental band, choir, general music, percussion, drama and other fine arts.
The Salvation Army is the largest provider of music education throughout the world. In 2013, The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division provided arts and music education for nearly 50,000 youth and adults.