Local Music Program Enriching Lives Through Music Reflects on Resilience — Support Their Work and Your Donation Will Be Doubled

In the spring of 2021, Marin Magazine featured Enriching Lives through Music, a vibrant school of music in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael (an economically vulnerable community), which has been transforming the lives of children for over 12 years.

Since then, ELM has emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever and their students are joining together again as a community to rehearse and perform. A tuition-free, instrumental and ensemble music program, ELM primarily serves 150-plus first-generation Latinx youth (ages 8-18). With three levels of orchestra, intensive music programming (up to 10 hours a week), and a focus on family engagement, academic support and social/emotional well-being, ELM helps students develop discipline, confidence and leadership skills — all skills needed to succeed in life.

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ELM students complete the program as musicians, scholars and leaders who are prepared to thrive and contribute to their community. Photo credit: Tim Porter

ELM is a member of El Sistema USA, the national voice for the intersection of musical excellence and equity in music education. El Sistema, inspired by the work of Maestro Antonio Abreu in Venezuela, is the belief that intensive participation in music ensembles, with high expectations for excellence, rigor and discipline has a profound impact on the development of resilience. 

This winter, 14 middle and high school students have been working on a special project, titled Reflections on Resilience. For these students who are on a special track called elmCATS (Community of Artists, Teachers and Scholars), an accelerated program for select ELM students who exhibit exceptional commitment and talent, this project has been a wonderfully challenging, rewarding undertaking.

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ELM’s upcoming concert on June 5 celebrates seniors who are all attending four-year colleges in the fall. Photo credit: Tim Porter

“Over the course of the Reflections on Resilience project, our elmCAT students have been exploring what resilience means to them and their families,” says Jane Kramer, ELM founder and executive director. “Resilience, in this context, represents the strength of music to cross time and place.”

By interviewing their elders about their earliest experiences with music, the students learned more about special songs, melodies and memories that were important to their families.

Now, drawing inspiration from their familial musical memories, these students arecollaborating with award-winning Venezuelan composer Giancarlo Castro D’Addona to create an original composition for ELM. This musical composition to debut at their fall concert will be a tangible and historical piece of art for the students and their families to cherish for years to come. “I have named it Mix of Cultura, to represent the blending of traditional orchestral movements with Latino-infused rhythms,” Giancarlo proudly states.

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ELM’s intensive music program contributes to the development of discipline, confidence and leadership – all skills they need to succeed in life. Photo credit: Tim Porter

To support this bold endeavor, ELM is launching a Matching Grant Challenge generously funded by Susan B. Noyes (founder and publisher of Make It Better Media) and a longtime ELM contributor. Supporters of ELM can double their impact during our challenge. All gifts made through June 30, 2022 will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. You can be an instrument of change by contributing to ELM’s mission to ​​provide resources that inspire and empower youth to pursue their dreams.

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ELM provides a safe, welcoming space for their students three days per week after school. Photo credit: Tim Porter

ELM’s spring concert is June 5 at Mt. Tam Church in Mill Valley, CA. The pre-orchestra and sinfonia (beginner level students) will perform from 4-5 p.m. and elmYO musicians (intermediate and advanced students) will perform from 7-8 p.m. Reserve your seat at ELM’s website.

Grant Details

This matching challenge is being funded by Susan B. Noyes (founder and publisher of Make It Better Media) and a longtime ELM contributor.

This challenge grant will provide full scholarship, immersive instrumental orchestral music education for primarily first generation Latinx students from the Canal neighborhood (an economically vulnerable community) of San Rafael.

We start children in third grade and commit to them for their entire childhood and beyond – providing increasing layers of support to them and their families as they grow older. We aspire to help all high school students to be prepared to go to and through a four-year college.

In addition to providing 170-plus youth ages 8-18 with 10-plus hours year-round of music education, ELM will use the grant funds to offer social/emotional and academic support.

Partners include:

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