Berklee City Music Conference to Explore Increasing Access to Music Education in Underserved Communities

By 
Allen Bush
October 15, 2013
Shoshana Bean, who appeared in the Tony-winning Broadway productions of Hairspray and Wicked, will teach a master class and perform with students from Berklee City Music Network sties.

National leaders in education and fundraising will address challenges and solutions in providing music education to students from underserved communities at the 2013 Berklee City Music Network Conference. Discussions will focus on creating revenue streams, board development, and online learning, among other relevant topics.

The Berklee City Music Network Conference presents American Popular Music, The Untold Story II: Excellence and Access, October 28 – 30, at the Westin Memphis Beale Street. The conference is open to all educators and community program directors in addition to Berklee City Music Network members and Berklee alumni.  Students pursuing degrees in music education are invited to attend for free. Complete registration information for the conference and concerts can be found here

Featured as keynotes or panelists will be Jeffrey C. Walker, co-author of The Generosity Network; Andrew Davis, founder of the Music Empowers Foundation; Libby Lai-Bun Chiu, former director of the National Endowment for the Arts Education Leaders Institute; Carol Johnson, superintendent emeritus of Boston and Memphis public schools; and Tuffus Zimbabwe, graduate of the Berklee City Music program and current pianist and keyboard player in the Saturday Night Live Band on NBC-TV.

Also sharing insight will be Roger H. Brown, Berklee College of Music president; J. Curtis Warner, executive director of Berklee City Music serving students in Boston and at 45 national Network locations; and Kirk Whalum, president and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, which operates the Stax Music Academy, home to one of the Network’s thriving after-school programs.

“The theme of this year's conference picks up where last year's left off –how using the music of today prepares talented and underserved kids to compete with their more advantaged peers for admission and scholarships to college,” says Berklee City Music executive director Warner.

Master classes with Grammy Award-winning Whalum and actress, singer, and songwriter Shoshana Bean, who appeared in the Tony Award-winning Broadway productions of Hairspray and Wicked, will feature performances from Stax Music Academy and Berklee City Music Network students in concert, demonstrating the impact of accessible music education in underserved communities. Through the Memphis network site, Berklee and Stax have helped youth from one of the nation’s most resourcefully challenged cities develop into proficient musicians, vocalists, and performers, many in receipt of full scholarships to the college.