At their 40th reunion in 1997, several members of the Yale class of 1957 raised the idea of a project that the class could work on together, to give something back to the larger community. The response of the whole class was overwhelmingly positive. They then had to figure out what exactly they wanted to do. Three criteria were decided upon for selecting a project: 1) it would invite and enable the active participation of the entire class, not just a few classmates; 2) it would avoid becoming primarily a fund-raising effort; and 3) it would include a Yale/New Haven aspect. Many potential projects were discussed, but when the subject of music in schools was raised, the agreement among classmates was immediate, unanimous, and enthusiastic.|
The mission of the Music in Schools Initiative was defined to promote expanded music education in public schools K-12 across the country, in order to reverse the reduction in music education that has occurred nationwide.
Because of the complexity of the mission, the Class decided to break it down into four tasks: 1) gather serious research that establishes the connection between music education and the well-being of young people; 2) collect anecdotes and studies from school districts in which music education programs are benefiting young people and schools; 3) disseminate this information so as to further the overall mission of the Initiative; and 4) identify programs that can be developed for public schools in New Haven and implemented with the cooperation of the Yale School of Music.
Over 70 classmates participated in the Music in Schools Initiative. The Initiative has also located substantial, thoughtful research that confirms that exposure to music improves academic performance and emotional well being of school children. Links to this research are available on this website.
Working with the Yale School of Music and the New Haven Public School System, the Initiative recruited a nonprofit agency, Education Through Music, at the outset to introduce their very successful music education program into the Lincoln Bassett Community School near the Yale campus. The Initiative hoped that in time the experience gained at Lincoln Bassett would be made available to other New Haven public schools and, with the assistance of the Yale School of Music, would serve to promote music education in public schools nationwide.
Also working with the Yale School of Music, a series of biennial symposia were planned to recognize outstanding music educators, with working sessions to exchange 'best practices,' to promote music education in school curricula, and to highlight the important role music teachers play in the social, intellectual, and personal development of students.
For further details, look among a number of status reports that are listed below.