2023 Grants Challenge

Music Education on the Westside

Our programs comprehensively address the needs of hundreds of motivated young musicians in Santa Monica and the westside of Los Angeles each season. We serve a range of students in grades K-12, from ambitious and advanced to those who just love making music - all who seek to deepen their study. Our programs provide students with rigorous ensemble training as well as private lessons, planting the seed for a lifelong love of music and appreciation of the arts.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

West LA

Other:: City of Santa Monica

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Our programs address K-12 STEAM education through after-school extracurricular music ensembles, as well as our in-school core music classes. Coming out of the pandemic, students are more disconnected than ever. Through participation in music education programs, students can find a unique sense of belonging, affirming their human dignity and sense of self-worth. One of our high school students recently told a group of elementary musicians that his favorite thing about playing in our programs was the sense of camaraderie that it built between him and his group mates. Additionally, we believe that socioeconomic background and the racial wealth gap should not be barriers for developing musical skill and talent. Too often, the benefits of music education are available only to families who can afford private lessons. Over half of the 600 enrolled students in our 2022/23 season received free music instruction, and we awarded over $50,000 in need-based scholarships to our ensemble students.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Our programs include: Prelude (3rd-4th grade beginning strings) Elemental Strings (3rd-5th grade intermediate and advanced string orchestra) Elemental Band (3rd-5th grade concert band for winds, brass and percussion) Elemental Guitar (3rd-8th grade classical guitar ensembles for beginning through advanced students) Elemental Choir (3rd-5th grade choir) Academy Philharmonic (middle school full orchestra for advanced strings, winds and brass) Chamber Music Institute (small ensembles for intermediate and advanced students in grades 6-12) Encore (4th-12th grade/ free private lessons to 90 low-income Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) students) Scholarship Lesson Program (3rd-8th grade/scholarships for Santa Monica ensemble students to help subsidize the cost of private music lessons) Elemental @ Broadway (two choirs, for grades K-2 and 3-5, beginning violin and cello classes for grades 3-4 at Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Broadway Elementary School) Elemental @ Westminster (sequential in-school general music classes for grades 3-5 at LAUSD's Title I Westminster Elementary) Teaching Fellowship (a paid fellowship for college musicians in southern California to receive hands-on teaching experience in our Santa Monica ensemble programs, mentorship, and professional development training, with the goal of expanding representation of teachers from marginalized backgrounds in the music classroom)

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Success through the grant period looks like our students finding confidence in themselves, developing cross-city friendships, and developing a love for music that will last beyond their season making music with us. We also hope to promote the importance of arts education and increase youth participation in music by raising the profile of the benefits of music education. We are currently planning a community festival for March 2024, which includes a collaboration with local dance troupe Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo to celebrate our 20th season and hope to draw in community members through those events. In the longer-term vision of our work, we are exploring ways to bring our model of learning to other schools that may not have existing music programs. The 2023/24 season will be our second year providing in-school music instruction and our first year doing this work over an entire season rather than a shorter 12-week period.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We use student and parent surveys to obtain quantitative and qualitative data each season. Parent surveys are in Spanish and English. 2022/23 student surveys show: 96% of our ensemble students reported increased enjoyment in singing/playing their instruments due to participation in our programs 98% of our ensemble students plan to continue playing their instrument and/or singing in the next school year A parent offered this on our survey: "I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the impact Elemental Music has had on my daughter's musical journey. The confidence she has gained and the growth she has experienced extend beyond her musical pursuits, empowering her in all aspects of life." The support that students receive in our programs sparks a love for music and helps them excel in their school programs. This commitment to music often lasts through college. We currently have three alumni on our staff. All three alumni also teach music for the Santa Monica school district.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 2,300

Indirect Impact: 12,000