GCMF, Sheila E.’s Elevate Oakland Donates New Music and Instrument Room to Oakland Middle School
The Guitar Center Music Foundation has partnered with Elevate Oakland to create an all-new music program at Elmhurst United Middle School in Oakland, CA. This partnership comes at a critical time for music education programs across California.
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Research shows that children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all other studies, have improved critical thinking, and go on to higher education. Despite this, California music programs have been subject to constant budget cuts over the past decade.
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Elmhurst United Middle School is one of many schools in the state to have experienced this firsthand. Helena Jack, the school’s music director, knows how essential a music education is to children’s development and has tried for years to bring a program back to Elmhurst. She got closer in 2020, but all momentum was lost when the school moved away due to the pandemic. Students were going home without instruments and it was almost impossible to give music lessons virtually.
“In February 2020, things were really starting to change with the mindset of students regarding music,” Jack said. “They went from ‘why do I have to do this’ to ‘when do we do this and what should I wear for the show?’ Suddenly COVID-19 hits and it’s all gone within a week.”
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With students returning to in-person classes and eager to make music, the donation from the Guitar Center Music Foundation and Elevate Oakland gives them the space and musical instruments they need to finally have a sustainable program. Donated items include drums, violins and a state-of-the-art WhisperRoom, which allows them to record and rehearse in a soundproof booth.
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To celebrate the new music room, The Guitar Center Music Foundation and Elevate Oakland held a surprise unveiling for students on Wednesday, February 16. The event featured Sheila E., the iconic “Queen of Percussion,” Oakland native and co-founder of Elevate Oakland, who spent the morning jamming with college students.
“Being exposed to music early in my life had a profound impact on my development as an artist, so I’m thrilled to be part of rebuilding the music program at Elmhurst United Middle School,” Sheila said. E. “These students are so passionate about music, and I’m thrilled to see them become the next generation of artists.”
“Music education should be an essential part of a child’s curriculum because it is a rewarding experience that creates lifelong benefits – from increased social skills to higher levels of confidence and self-esteem,” said Myka Miller-Jimenez, executive director of the Guitar Center Music Foundation. . “Guitar Center Music Foundation is committed to helping support this program, and we look forward to seeing the artists it inspires for years to come.”
To learn more about the Guitar Center Music Foundation’s work to keep music education alive and available in schools across the country, visit www.guitarcenterfoundation.org.
Learn more about supporting “The Arts and Music in Schools – Funding Guarantee and Accountability Act,” a ballot initiative that, if passed by California voters this fall, will dramatically increase funding for arts education in every pre-K-12 public school up to approximately $800 million per year, without raising taxes, visit https://voteartsandminds.org/sign-the-petition/.