Miami, Fla. – Emerging as a model for music education programs nationally, the Miami Music Project has reached over 30,000 children and youth across Miami-Dade County, becoming one of the largest socially transformative music initiatives in the U.S. amid the chaos caused by COVID-19.
The organization, known for its free afterschool music program, adapted once COVID-19 began to impact the community, acting quickly to elect Board Chair and Vice-Chair Maria Pia Leon and Daniel Mazanec. Under their leadership, urgent decisions helped ensure that supporting underserved communities remained the organization’s top priority.
As a result, the Miami Music Project kept all its staff and Teaching Artists employed, and shifted all afterschool programming to a temporary virtual space by reinventing its methodology to be applied online and retraining the faculty. Miami Music Project Connect has been fully operational for weeks, providing hundreds of kids from Miami’s most under-resourced neighborhoods with a variety of daily class offerings and support materials.
“From the very beginnings of Miami Music Project, we’ve made a strong commitment to our local artists and musicians who teach for us, making sure they are always compensated at competitive levels for their hard, skilled work," said Anna Klimala, the executive director.
“Through this pandemic,” she added, “our Teaching Artists have continued to share their expertise and knowledge of music with our students, leading them, and making sure the music, the learning, and securing of bright futures for themselves does not stop.”
The organization has afﬁrmed that it intends to maintain the new online virtual learning format until schools reopen, envisioning their summer music camp also to be online.
"It seems clear to me that when we emerge from this crisis, music will play a role in healing us spiritually. It will literally bring our physically-and-ﬁnancially-wounded-selves together,” Pia Leon said.
“Our challenge today is to understand which path will allow us to adapt to what may be a new order of things. When it comes to fundraising, our aim is to communicate to our donors that they are investing in human capital where there is only room for growth."
“This has been a very trying time for my family,” said Kimberley Muhammad, parent of daughter Saniyya and son Saleem who are a part of Miami Music Project.
“I am also a teacher and am trying to keep my students on track remotely, as well as taking care of my own children and, beyond education, keeping everyone emotionally well and encouraged.
“Since this pandemic started with the cancelling of my kids’ concerts and several other activities, we were all feeling down and unsure of the future. It has been difﬁcult for them socially because they already attended a small school, and Miami Music Project is a big outlet for them socially as well as musically.
“We thank the Miami Music Project for starting the online program. It has added the social and emotional connection back to their lives. Being able to see their friends helps them to know that they are not alone and can look forward to a bright future on the other side of this.”
VICTORIA TO CORNELL
Also afﬁrming the program’s importance in her daughter’s life, parent Margarita Avila-Moya said, “Victoria was just accepted into Cornell University. I truly believe the Miami Music Project had a signiﬁcant impact on this outcome. The consistency and discipline given to her between school and the Miami Music Project during the last seven years kept her motivated, with the latter always being the highlight of her week.
“This institution brings not only a social transformation through music but also the perfect way for students to achieve their maximum potential,” she added. “My daughter Victoria is very proud to have been part of the Miami Music Project."