Tresean Mallqui started learning to play the snare drum when he was in 4th grade. Now in 8th grade, he plans to keep playing in high school because “I like to hear myself improve.” He says that playing percussion has taught him “focus” that helps him to do better in school.
Thanks to a grant from the Domenica Foundation, Symphony in C offers instrumental music instruction as an afterschool program at the Catholic Partnership Schools (CPS) in Camden. While public schools have cut music and art instruction, the CPS schools give their students the chance to learn an instrument and play in a CPS-wide band.
Perhaps a few of these young people will go on to careers in music. For most, playing an instrument is a fun activity that teaches valuable life skills. Tresean, for example, has learned that hard work pays off. Young musicians learn to take direction from the conductor, attune themselves to other players, and, as Tresean says, focus on something that matters to them.
Glenna Harkins of CPS notes that learning an instrument teaches responsibility: “The kids have to take care of their instruments.
They have to get organized to practice at home and bring their instruments every Thursday so they can go to band practice.”
“And then there’s the excitement of the performance at the end of the year!” Ms. Harkins went on to say. “The kids feel so accomplished to earn praise from their families and friends.”
Another benefit is the ability to connect with other students who also love music. Tresean was skilled enough on the snare drum to be accepted into Symphony in C’s summer camp in 2019; his participation was partially funded by the Domenica Foundation. At camp, he met people from outside Camden that he probably would never have encountered otherwise.
Tresean’s dad supports his son’s music interests because, he says, “It makes him more well-rounded. Whatever you do, whether it’s band or sports–you can use it all to do better in school and in your life.”
Most Camden children have access to sports programs. Domenica Foundation supports instrumental music in Catholic Partnership Schools so young people have other options for fun, safe afterschool activities that teach important life lessons.