Each program at every school is planned with at least a year in advanced. The schools are required to create an steering committee (usually composed by administrators, teachers, parents and students) which is in charge of selecting the structure of the partnership (teacher-training for existing music programs, teacher training for classroom teachers, direct instruction for schools without music programs, integrating the history/music/reflection into the classroom or multicultural workshops on specific topics – all structures include our basic concept of history/performance/reflection). The steering committee also is in charge of fundraising, selecting participant teachers, students and themes to be studied. Depending on the selected structure, SYP participants receive instruction in theory, instrument techniques, the histories that inform cultural works, styles and genres, and opportunities and/or strategies for aesthetic reflection. They will receive further music exposure through in- and out-of-school performance opportunities such as student exchange performances among partnering SYP and neighborhood schools and trips to civic performances, cultural institutions and artist residencies. SYP participants are encourage to join the MMG Youth Ensemble or the MMG Orchestra, our professional ensemble, for proficient students. The participation in our ensembles is designed to retain, motivate and give practical experience in the Playing History curriculum. This aspect helps our advanced high school students with their community service requirement. The Bronx Lebanon Hospital supports our students as a venue for regular performances in patient wards and ambulatory clinics.
Each program at every school receives training on research practices on hidden aspects of history, music sensory perception (connection of music, senses, and emotions), commissioned repertoire to depict historical topics, and the use of affective reflection to analyze the music–history connection and its relationship to the students’ lives.
The History/Research aspect of the training is conducted by senior MMG personnel. In this component, the trainers present events of major historical import that have been excluded from the mainstream curriculum. Some topics may include the United States Civil Rights Movement, the Caste System in India, the Apartheid procedures in South Africa, the Ponce and Parsley Massacres, the Tiananmen Square Crisis, the Rwanda Genocide and many others. The topics are choose as historical events that represented the student population in the SYP and the importance and lack of exposure of these topics; an aspect that opened the intrigue and curiosity among the students and gave them the drive to research the events and their causes. Moreover, these topics kindled within students a sense of curiosity about history and interest in conducting research that they would likely not have had otherwise.
The music sensory perception is based on multi-sensorial strategies to connect senses and emotions within the music students. Music instructors receive instruction from MMG personnel on how to connect the production of sound with colors, textures, smells and even flavors. They use trips to multicultural fairs and the use of video clips presenting different types of music, dance, drama and visual art which helps the students to connect their senses with culture or the connection of sounds and colors: high sounds with light and brilliance, low sounds with the opposite; sounds with taste and smell of foods as presented in community fairs or school assemblies; and sound with texture as presented with folkloric clothing.
The connection of music with history involve the students in an empathic relationship with the topics. The repertoire aspect required music specifically composed to depict historical events. For that reason, composers, musicians, scholars, and community activists came to the classrooms to support the history behind the events and the performance of different musical genres. All the history information and rudiments’ strategies are integrated into a real framework of interpretation and perception. The connection of music sensory development with referential aspects of history helped the students with interpretation of external factors and the affinity of the appropriate sounds with the intrinsic intention of the musical work. For these reasons, music instructors receive training on the affective reflection and the music/history connection.
SYP participants are from predominantly low-income families living in underserved communities in the South Bronx, East Harlem and Washington Heights. Many of these young people have experienced hardships and traumas that are difficult for them to verbalize or otherwise express. For this reason, MMG also has the support of community activists, scholars, composers and the artistic community in order to help MMG music instructors in affective reflection and empathy development. Facilitators, help MMG faculty on innovative ways to strengthen creative expression and affective skills with historical research, visual arts, drama and music, and a variety of techniques in which teaching artists could foster emotional development within SYP youth.