MUSE is housed at Columbine, a bilingual elementary in Boulder. Now in its second semester, the program has grown to include small group instruction for all students on either flute, trumpet, guitar or violin. We have 6 teachers, all of whom are professional musicians.
Our program runs three afternoons a week for 2 hours each day. Study is divided between group instrument instruction, music theory, and a whole-community choir.
Music is the universal language shared by all cultures. MUSE exposes the spiritual, emotional and intellectual aspects of music which every child should have the right to learn. Boulder MUSE is a human development program that provides intensive music education to financially disadvantaged children in Boulder County. MUSE’s program not only teaches music but also instills social responsibility, security within the community, and selfesteem.
Inspiration for this program comes in large part from El Sistema, a worldwide music education program for
underprivileged youth, begun in Venezuela in 1975.
Boulder MUSE is a free afterschool music program for underserved children and adolescents in Boulder County.
MUSE is a safe and nurturing community of students, teachers, volunteers and parents dedicated to giving young people the optimal environment in which to thrive, one wherethe study of music is the primary focus.
The program aspires to improve the life trajectory of hundreds of Boulder County’s most needy young people.
Comprehensive music education is a vehicle for social change, where, through the rigorsand joys of making music in a supportive community, youth become empowered to use theirleadership skills for their good and the good of their families and communities.
Music educationand its positive effect on brain development is well documented.
Dr. Nina Kraus, director ofNorthwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory discovered “tremendous development in the areas of the brain responsible for sound processing and verbal abilities” in her study of students at the Harmony Project, an El Sistemainspiredprogram in Los Angeles (Frontiers in Psychology, December 16, 2014).
The music program is made up of two parts, instrumental ensembles (primarily orchestra) and chorus.
The orchestra is the focus of MUSE’s instrumental music program. Students in the orchestra come to understand that it takes all members working together to create something of beauty and value. Every student learns to play an orchestral instrument in
group lessons. From the very beginning, every student participates in the orchestra, playing
parts written to suit his or her current level.
The chorus is the other wholeschool ensemble where the knowledge of the individual’s importance to the group is instilled.
Teachers actively participate in the chorus along with the students.
Our teachers are professional musicians and university music majors.
Academic support is also a vital aspect of our program.
Regular academic tutoring time
is built into every afternoon.
Our community includes volunteers and licensed teachers who tutor students and maintain an awareness of the academic needs of each student.
On a daily basis throughout the 10 hour per week MUSE program, students rotate through a schedule that includes group lessons, orchestra rehearsal, academic support, and chorus.
Children growing up in low socioeconomic
circumstances begin kindergarten already
behind their more fortunate peers. Being engaged in language from infancy on, being read to and even being around print in the home, all contribute greatly to a child’s facility in developing
literacy. Growing up speaking a language other than English may create roadblocks to English literacy and academics in general. Parents of these children may not speak English, and even if
they do, they may not have the ability nor the time to help their children with gradelevel
Boulder County has a large Spanishspeaking
Boulder MUSE takes its inspiration in large part from the El Sistema movement created by Sr. José Antonio Abreu, a Venezuelan conductor and former economist. Sr. Abreu created El
Sistema in 1975 in his garage with 11 students and borrowed instruments. He believes that through the combination of personal responsibility and commitment to the community children can learn to create positive social change. El Sistema is now a nationwide program in Venezuela.
El Sistema has inspired schools all over the world. Most of the major cities in the U.S. have at least one such school; Los Angeles has eleven. El Sistema Colorado, based in Denver at two elementary schools and one middlesenior high, currently serves 200 youth, ages 8 to 18.
The staff and students of El Sistema Colorado have welcomed our questions, our presence at their afterschool program, at their concerts, and as volunteers in their summer camp.
El Sistema Colorado continues to be a rich source of knowledge and inspiration as Boulder MUSE develops.
The awareness that Boulder County did not have and truly needed such a school bred the impetus to start one.
Thus Boulder MUSE was born.
Foundational principles of Boulder MUSE are:
A life of dignity and involvement in a community is the birthright of every human being. Within a community students are able to feel like valued and respected members.
Young people thrive on love, acceptance and positive experiences. All children have limitless possibilities to achieve excellence if given a nurturing environment.
Boulder MUSE is a community that strives for excellence in music and in life.
Through a nurturing and rigorous program we are committed to helping young people develop into self respecting citizens who strive to achieve their highest potential. The hope is that they will become leaders in their communities.