Category archives: Education Program

  • With an unprecedented climate of change and concern dawning in the United States, Art for Progress arts education programs are more essential than ever. AFP is embracing the ever-growing need for alternative and supplemental art, music, theater, and fashion programs for young people representing the voice of true expression in our city. Once again this has been an exciting semester for existing Art for Progress arts education programs in New York City’s public schools, and there are some new programs in the works for the second half of the school year.Our flagship music program at Humanities Preparatory Academy, which includes school day sessions as well as after school, is flourishing and has produced and cultivated a bunch of wonderful talent this semester. Everyone at the school is looking forward to the talent show on February 16th, which will include solo vocal and instrumental performances, and a variety of ensemble pieces and even a dance number.  AFP’s after school program at the James Baldwin School is also going strong and was well represented in the recent school-wide talent show on Friday, January 20. Students from both schools have been working hard after school every day, choosing songs and rehearsing. Especially impressive is the spirit of mutual encouragement among the students as the shows approach.As for AFP’s Young Adult Music Enrichment Program, tracking is nearly completed on Bronx rock band Statik Vision’s full-length album, and we are preparing [...]
  • On September 24, the National African American Museum opened its doors to public. And while the museum's timed passes are sold out for the rest of the year,  it's still a great time to learn about what's currently on exhibit.And if you are wondering if there's a showcase at the museum that relates to the world of fashion, you're in luck. The museum will be showcasing a selection of Ann Lowe's dresses, and they are a must-see!Ann Lowe — a highly sought after designer in her day —  is the first world-renowned black designer who created dresses for socialites and brides. She created looks for families including the Auchinclosses, DuPonts, Kennedys, Posts, Rockefellers, and Roosevelts. She is also the first black designer to own a boutique on Madison Avenue. And her stunning creations were also sold at Henri Bendel, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. Pink satin and organza ball gown, designed by Ann Lowe, 1959, once owned by Patricia Penrose Schieffer, wife of CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Gift of the Black Fashion Museum founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane. Photo courtesy of NMAAHCFamously, Lowe designed Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding gown in 1953. Lowe crafted a dress made up of fifty yards of ivory silk taffeta for the Bouvier-Kennedy nuptials, and cost approximately $700  — roughly $13,000 factoring today's inflation, according to Racked's Danielle Kwateng-Clark .And as Kwateng-Clark deftly sums up, Lowe "did the impossible in the Jim Crow-era by making a name fo[...]
  • Art for Progress’ after school music enrichment program at Hudson High School for Learning Technologies was especially inspiring this spring semester because of a dynamic group of multi-talented, and eager students. The program was reinstated this spring thanks to the efforts of principal Nancy Amling. The program had been inactive for the fall semester because a lack of funding, Ms. Amling was influenced in her decision to restart the program by an exceptional young student and musician named Terelle. Terelle’s enthusiasm and hunger for new knowledge were the ultimate catalyst for the formation of the program.Tarelle wanted to learn about how music works beyond the shapes he was learning on the guitar. Hudson HS currently offers a beginning guitar class as a part of the school’s regular curriculum. The class is focused on the mechanics of playing the instrument, but like most beginning guitar classes, it did not address the underlying music theory necessary for students who to build their skills beyond the basic guitar vocabulary.The group of students that comprise the AFP after school program at Hudson range from 9th-12th graders, and are led by Terelle.  He expressed a desire to learn some more universal musical concepts in order to set up a foundation upon which to develop their musicality. They were made up of aspiring singers, guitarists, pianists, and bass players of varying levels of experience. We explored the construction of scales, chord building and common[...]
  • At The James Baldwin School in Chelsea, AFP's program is in its 3rd year, offering after school digital audio production, musical instrument instruction and performance coaching. Students range from 9th to 12th grade and come to the program with a variety of individual goals in mind. The sessions vary, and participants usually work individually or in small groups.The class combines a combination of elements which are often going on simultaneously. One group may be learning how to sequence beats to a metronome track on one computer, while another student is involved in the more advanced stages of a fully fleshed out track on the next. At the same time a vocal duo may be working out harmonies to a rock ballad, while others are learning how to build scales and chords on the piano. In all cases, the fundamentals of music making are uncovered and explored. The focus is always on building a working musical vocabulary and developing the ability to use music for self-expression.This year at Baldwin I have seen remarkable progress on every front. Beat-makers have progressed from struggling at playing simple kick and snare patterns, to building complete tracks and having their friends rap over them. Drummers who had never played a drum-set maintain a groove behind a full band. I’m especially impressed with Reshwan and Katana who had never met before. Within a few short months they have  become a powerful cohesive duet act eagerly learning the theory to support their development[...]
  • The Art for Progress music program at Humanities Preparatory Academy, now in it’s fourth school year, is the flagship of AFP’s arts education programs. Instituted in the Fall of 2012, the program serves two classes of 12-18 students four days per week, with each day’s lunch period serving as an additional class period enabling students to seek further instruction or individual practice time. The class is open to students of all high school years (9-12) allowing a rare occasion for teens of different ages to interact on a level playing field in a collaborative setting.There are also two after school sessions per week, which give students an opportunity to either practice alone, or to join in group music-making, which is the ultimate intention of all AFP music programming. Faculty also participate, further enriching the overall experience of the students, and the teachers learn just as much as the kids!The goal of the program is for every student to be able to play at least one complete song. Toward this goal, all students learn the basic mechanics of music in general, and to develop proficiency on least one instrument. Although much of the class time is spent building and developing skills, the focus of the program is ultimately on giving students the tools to express themselves.The semester begins with discussions about students’ musical interests and experiences, with everyone having an opportunity to choose a song by an artist or group that they like to share wi[...]
  • NYC Arts Non Profit Heads West in Support of Local Arts Programs Convergence: Saturday, November 14th, Studio Maesto, Santa Monica, CA. On Saturday, November 14th New York City based non-profit Art for Progress (AFP) will host a fundraiser in support of Studio Maesto’s Arts Collective Program in Santa Monica, California.  The event will take place at Studio Maesto’s dance and photography studio at 1547 6th Street, Santa Monica, and will feature visual art from three Los Angeles based artists who have exhibited with AFP in the past- Sona Mirzaei, Lichiban and Pablo Damas. The night will also showcase live performances from Barry Komitor (NYC based band Bad Faces), DJ sets from NYC’s Gatto, LA based DJ/Producer Elliot DeHoyos and a myriad of local performance artists. Net proceeds from ticket sales and a percentage of art sales will go to support the studios arts collective program (details below). Tickets ($15) will be available at the door. Tickets include a drink and light fare. Additional beverages will be available for purchase. Studio Maesto, 1547 6th Street, Santa Monica, CA - Hours: 7:30pm – 11:00pmOver the last 12 years, Art for Progress has produced over 50 major events in NYC, Miami, San Francisco and Washington DC. With a focus on multimedia productions, AFP has garnered valuable press coverage for artists in world renowned publications such as The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily and The Village Voice.  While supporting and promoting artists through these[...]
  • https://vimeo.com/124416402As we arrive at the conclusion of another school year, Art for Progress arts ed programs are developing and evolving in new ways. The music program at Humanities Prep has been flourishing, and we recently held a student and faculty talent show, showcasing the wealth of talent that has been incubating within the school. Performances spanned a wide range of instrumentation and repertoire, and even included some original pieces and songs written by the performers. AFP's Young Adult Enrichment Program has now spawned three bands, which are now gigging around NYC. Statik Vosion, the core project of the program, also recently played alongside my own band, Bad Faces at the AFP live music series “We Deliver” at The Bowery Electric on Manhattan's storied Lower East Side. Other projects are in the works for the summer, including a recording project to produce an EP release for Statik Vision and a music enrichment program in partnership with the Upper West Side JCC which will provide music instruction for under-served elementary school students. I taught the classes last year and if was a blast!At Humanities Prep, in Chelsea, I have been teaching music to high school students for the past three years. Some of the talent that has been emerging from the program is truly unbelievable. I have seen a number of students who had never played an instrument before become capable, and even inspired players, while others have come to me with some experience and s[...]
  • Art for Progress is proud to announce their upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing. One of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies, Much Ado also takes a complex look at love, relationships and searching for "self," This production will use the classic language of Shakespeare in a modern setting - demonstrating the relevance of the writer's work in present day. This incredible show will also feature some of NYC's finest actors, comedians and public servants all on stage for a good cause. After production costs - all profits will go to Art for Progress's Education Program - helping young people tap into their artistic abilities.Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street), (212) 691-1555SHOWS:Friday, May 29th - 8:00 pm Saturday, May 30th - 8:00 pm Sunday, May 31st - 7:00 pmFriday, June 5th - 8:00 pm Saturday, June 6th - 8:00 pm Sunday, June 7th - 7:00 pmTo purchase tickets for $25Director: Alexis Confer Producers: Frank Jackson (Art for Progress), Jennifer Park, Erin Marsz, Demetri Kofinas Stage Manager: Angelica KatzCast: Erin Marsz, Jerrod Bogard, John Purdy, Kevin Bartini, Langston Belton, Clio Contogenis, David Shakopi, Sam Parrott, Eric Ryan Swanson, Ellen Cheney, Chablis Quarterman, Natalie Hoy, Matt Mykityshyn, Cecilia Faraut, Allison Guerra, Anders Adams, Kezia Tyson, Xiomara Rolon, and Conrad Cohen. "Creative Culture Accelerating Social Change"
  • Teaching beat making and digital music production is always as much of a learning experience for me as it is an opportunity to share my techniques and skills with my students. This semester at the James Baldwin School, I have been working with a great group of kids with a very eclectic set of sensibilities. Some already have experience using Fruity Loops, FL Studio, Ableton or other production software on their laptops and tablets at home to make beats or tracks. Some are completely new to the process music making. Still others have experience playing traditional analog instruments, and are interested in expanding their musical palettes. The key guiding principle for me as I work to guide each student toward their own personal music making goals is to instill in them an ethic of making music from intention. By this I don't mean that that they need to decide in advance what their music means, or what experience the end listener will eventually have; although that is another, very interesting conversation. I simply mean that I encourage them to develop the skill of hearing the music in their heads, and having a vision of the ultimate result before setting ideas down. This is especially challenging at the present moment, because many production tools, and especially software based production methods enable us to bypass that step by using pre-existing loops and samples, and automatically time syncing them. Some even put them in tune with one another. While this allows for a n[...]
  • https://vimeo.com/124425796I am sometimes asked to describe my music teaching methodology. Having done this frequently, I have distilled my basic philosophy to a few key themes, which accentuate the contrast between how I approach music education with Art for Progress, and how music is traditionally taught in public schools. There are clear differences in goals, in repertoire, and in what information is considered important to convey.First, the goals are different at their essence. Traditional music instruction involves learning the mechanics of an instrument and the written language of music notation in order to reproduce pieces of music that have earned their place in the vocabulary of music educators, often, though not always, centuries or decades ago. There is little explanation of the relationships between the elements of music, or consideration of building skills toward creating original music. Traditionally trained players are often discouraged from improvising, and develop an aversion to it and even a fear of hitting wrong notes if they dare explore uncharted territory.On the other hand, many untrained musicians, often referred to as self-taught, are undeterred by the pitfalls of exploration because they know it to be the path toward discovery. These include many folk, blues, rock, reggae, indie, pop and hip-hop musicians. Rather than learning music note for note from transcriptions, they develop a modular understanding of chords, scales, and riffs, which [...]
  • The greatest reward a teacher can receive from his students is that they exceed his expectations and do work that is inspired, inspiring, and truly reverses the student/teacher dynamic by teaching the teacher something new. I am exceptionally fortunate to have had that experience many times over as a teaching artist for Art for Progress. Two examples that stand out in my mind are: the band Statik Vision and Humanities Prep junior and chanteuse April T.The members of Statik Vision have been studying with me for almost four years, beginning while I was at Bronxdale High in the Bronx. When I left Bronxdale and came to Humanities Prep in Chelsea, it was important to me and to AFP to continue to provide opportunities for learning to former AFP program participants who wanted to further develop their musical education. Jason McFarlane and Ramond Moreta were students in the same building as Bronxdale (Christopher Columbus HS Campus) who gravitated to the Bronxdale after school program when principal John Chase asked that the program be made open to the entire campus. Upon setting up shop at Humanities Prep the following year, I invited them and a number of other former AFP students to make the trek to Manhattan to attend sessions after-after school. They began to come regularly, and to bring friends who were both talented and eager to learn, and formed a band, T-10. I helped coach the band’s rehearsals, while also allotting time to give lessons in guitar and bass technique, jazz[...]