Berklee to Deliver Free Contemporary Music Education to Underserved Youth Nationwide

By
Nick Balkin
January 2, 2007
by Phil Farnsworth

Berklee announces the City Music Network—a new partnership with community organizations across the United States to deliver high-quality contemporary music instruction to underserved youth. In a dramatic expansion of the college's groundbreaking, Boston-based City Music program, Berklee will bring its real-time and web-based music education to students nationwide, regardless of financial means or location. Students who complete the required coursework are qualified to audition for scholarships to Berklee's Boston campus for summer programs and undergraduate study.

More than 200 students will be served when pilot projects begin in March 2007 at the Experience Music Project in Seattle; A Place Called Home and Sound Art in Los Angeles; eSharp Music in Washington, D.C.; and the Mount Airy Cultural Center in Philadelphia. The Berklee PULSE is the name of the methodology used by the City Music Network partners and their programs, for example: the Berklee PULSE at Experience Music Project. Apple Computer will serve as a key technology partner, providing server support and access to iTunes University. Berklee will also partner with members of NAMM, the International Music Products Association, to provide City Music Network students with musical instruments and equipment.

The Berklee PULSE's real-time and web-based components—specially trained alumni teachers and an extensive online curriculum of learning and community building tools—give Berklee national control over the quality of the program. Berklee alumni, trained and certified in Boston, will play a unique role as local mentors and teachers, providing instrumental, vocal, and ensemble instruction, and guiding students through the online materials.

Partner sites will plug into a virtual network, giving them instant access to Berklee's online music resources. The curriculum, which teaches music theory, ear training, and performance, is based on a library of popular r&b, rock, hip-hop, and jazz songs, six of which are being recorded by the Movement Orchestra, the touring ensemble for Christina Aguilera, Babyface, Patti LaBelle, and others. Webcasting and videoconferencing technologies will provide face-to-face interaction between City Music Network students at partner sites and faculty and students at Berklee's Boston campus.

Alumni teachers are paid for by partner sites, while the virtual network is offered to partners at no cost. Berklee, which is investing $1 million in the program's startup costs, plans to raise $10 million to support scholarships, and will expand the City Music Network to 50 partner sites over the next three to five years, with rapid continual growth afterward.

Berklee City Music provides underserved, inner-city middle- and high-school students from the Boston area after-school mentoring, Saturday schooling, summer study, and full-tuition scholarships to Berklee at no cost to them or their families. Since its inception in 1991, the program has taught more than 1,300 students and awarded over $5 million in student scholarships.

Listen to tracks recorded by the Berklee City Music All-Star Ensemble.

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For editorial information or digital photos, the media may contact:

Nick Balkin
Office of Public Information
(617) 747-2247
nbalkin@berklee.edu