Institute of Music in Elizabeth Inspires Children and Families

Joanna Gagis goes on-location to the Institute of Music to learn about the role the Institute has in the lives of children and families throughout Elizabeth, New Jersey.

9/9/17 #615






"The philosopher Plato said that music is a more potent instrument than any for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inner parts of our soul. Yet we know that not all children have equal access to arts education, and it often breaks down along lines of socioeconomic status. Well one organization right here in New Jersey is changing all of that. [music playing] We wanted to bring children here and give them a chance to be exposed to the arts. Because many of the parents in the community could not afford to provide that type of service for their children. When we started, we had maybe 15-20 children for a one week Summer camp. And then over the years, we progressed and progressed, and we're now serving over 600 children. We have a year round arts program. And while our name is the Institute of Music, we started as a music program. So we teach piano, guitar, violin, and drums. But over the years we've also added things like acting and singing. We have many types of dance, so we do breakdance, to modern dance, to hip hop dance, and we also offer some specialty classes, including things like electronic music production. We have capoeira, which is a Brazilian martial arts and dance class. We even do a class called "young chefs" where kids come weekly, and they're working with a professional chef to learn how to cook for themselves, and they start as young as nine years olds, cooking. So the arts of all types? All types of arts. We don't turn an art away. The Institute of Music for Children provides affordable access to these classes that many families in the Elizabeth, New Jersey area could otherwise never afford. So we fundraise for three quarters of our operating budget, so that we can insure that every child has access to a robust arts education. Children don't have to pick just one art form to study because that's all their parents can afford. We want kids to come here and be able to try drumming one semester, guitar another semester, acting another semester, and sometimes they'll take two or three classes at a time. [music playing] Would you have been able to give your kids an opportunity like this had it not been for this institute? I'm gonna say definitely no, given the fact that I have five kids, financially, it would have been not possible. [music playing] The other thing is that we start as young as age three, and we go through teens, and then we even offer classes to adults. So really the entire family can come here and be a part of the institute. And we do have, sometimes, entire families..."