Music Outreach Program
The mission of the Music Outreach Program is to establish musical interaction between B-CU students, faculty, and the Volusia County public schools through a series of musical workshops, presentations, and performances throughout the school year. The Music Outreach Program offers a unique opportunity for both the community and B-CU music majors to engage in an exchange of musical ideas, share their experiences with younger students, serve as role models, and expose the public school students to stimulating artistic experiences. These performances include a diverse body of classical and jazz repertoire presented by a variety of instrumentalists and vocalists.
As federal and state budgetary constraints continue to force public schools to cut arts and music from their curricula, there has never been a more urgent need for music to be brought into the schools than now. In 2009, Dr. Rose Grace, Assistant Professor of Piano in the Music Department at Bethune-Cookman University, founded the Music Outreach Program, bringing musically gifted music majors from B-CU into the Volusia area public schools to share their talents, experiences, and passion for music with young students. These articulate, enthusiastic, young men and women make an immediate connection with school students who range in grades from elementary to high school. The public school students are excited by the high level and variety of performances, as well as engaging conversations, ranging from discussions about the various instruments, musical selections and composers, to individual stories of how these music majors began their journey into the world of music.
The Music Outreach Program presents a 45-minute to one-hour presentation which features a small group of B-CU students involved in the music department’s musical activities, such as opera workshop and musical theater scenes, small chamber group ensembles, as well as individual piano, instrumental and vocal studios. In the past year, a group of vocalists presented a vocal workshop at Deland High School, focusing on issues such as vocal technique, stage presence, and challenges of choral versus solo singing. During the Black History month, a group of students were involved in several presentations at the local elementary schools, introducing students to the history and music of African-Americans through the performances of spirituals, blues and jazz. Since its beginning, the Music Outreach Program has visited over 20 different schools in Volusia County, including several repeat visits to local area schools.
In the fall of 2011, the Music Outreach Program Committee (MOP), comprised of Professors Grace, Rayam, and Westervelt, established the B-CU Music Outreach Program Scholarship which awarded its first scholarship in March, 2012. The scholarship is intended for those music majors who have participated in the Music Outreach Program for a minimum of two semesters, maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA, and are selected by the MOP Committee as the highest score recipient(s) during the performance audition. The MOP Committee chooses up to two scholarship winners, each of which receives a $500 award to be applied toward BCU tuition or a summer music program. As part of the fund-raising efforts, participants in the Music Outreach Program and BCU music faculty have performed in benefit concerts within the community, with all proceeds going toward the Music Outreach Program Scholarship Fund.
From its inception, the Music Outreach Program sought the following three goals: 1) establish a connection with the local community, 2) inspire and expose young children in the public school system to stimulating, artistic experiences, and 3) provide performance and public speaking opportunities for B-CU music majors outside the university setting. The feedback from teachers, public school students and B-CU music students has been overwhelmingly positive. The teachers are constantly voicing the need for their students to hear “good performances” of music and to be exposed to different types of music. To quote one of the MOP participants, “…Being a part of the outreach program not only helps enhance my performance etiquette while performing, it also helps encourage students everywhere to not only want to become a Wildcat, but also want to go further with music because of what they have heard when we perform.”