Trenton Community Music School is grateful and honored that the two earliest adopters of the Trenton Music Makers youth orchestra, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Princeton Area Community Foundation, will continue to support the program in 2016-17.
Dodge was with us when we piloted the program at Grant Elementary School. Together with the Trenton Public Schools, who provided not only program space and security infrastructure, but also a full complement of string instruments thanks to the VH-1 Save the Music Foundation, we opened "El Sistema - Trenton" with 30 kids in the third and fourth grades. Trenton Community Music School hired teaching artists, purchased music, provided healthy afterschool snacks, and operated a one-semester after-school orchestra that met three days a week. We transported these newly-minted violinists to NJPAC in June, where they proudly exhibited their new skill along with the players from the other member organizations of the El Sistema New Jersey Alliance, some of whom had been playing for several years longer.
Then last September, with added support from PACF, we began the year with 45 students, studying violin, viola and cello. Still less than a year into their work, Trenton Music Makers played at Trenton City Hall for Mayor Eric Jackson and a host of municipal employees, for a meeting of the Trenton Board of Education, for a crowd of appreciative adults at Trenton Community Music School's annual benefit, and amazingly, on the stage of Richardson Auditorium as the special guests of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, at the PSO's annual Holiday POPS! Concert. Eager to place the Capital City front and center in the program's identity, we renamed it "Trenton Music Makers."
This fall TCMS will begin its third program year, and launch its second site at Dunn Middle School. Between the two sites we anticipate that Trenton Music Makers will include nearly 100 students. Trenton Music Makers has by now given a dozen performances, and thanks in part to a wildly-successful musical instrument drive co-sponsored by Princeton University, WWFM The Classical Network, and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, each of the players has an instrument assigned to him/her for rehearsal, performance -- and practice at home -- for the full year. Other generous donors have come onboard to support these dedicated young players, but the continuation of our original funders' support is especially gratifying.
"[B]oth of your signature programs," writes Christopher Daggett, the CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, "directly improve the lives of the children they serve and also improve the lives of the adults who care for and teach them." Jeffrey M. Vega, President & CEO of the Community Foundation concurs: “All children deserve access to the arts, and your program enriches the lives of those who participate. We are happy to help support it through our Greater Mercer Grants program.”
Support from Dodge and from PACF, our first two reasons to have felt optimistic about this venture, continue to help us grow.