MSNBC: Turning Hard Times Into Harmony

24 10 2011

By George Lewis, NBC News

Dr. Margaret Martin’s enthusiasm and passion are infectious.  “We’re saving kids’ lives!” she proclaims.

Because of her, 1,500 youngsters from the gang-infested neighborhoods of Los Angeles are off the streets and spending their spare time in youth orchestras sponsored by the Harmony Project, which she started a decade ago. Kids accepted into the program are given free musical tutoring and instruments, provided they sign a contract that they will finish school and not drop out. On Thursday, President Obama awarded a Presidential Citizen’s Medal to Martin, one of 13 Americans to receive the 2011 award.

“Our students learn discipline, persistence, confidence, accountability for the use of their time,” Martin said, “and they learn to collaborate well with others in an ensemble.”

Those students agree. “The music really made me focus more in school and made me concentrate,” said Harmony Project violinist Andrea Garcia during a break in a Saturday practice session, “it releases my stress and I don’t get angry as much.”

Mizael Reyes, another violinist, chimed in. “I know that you have to put effort into music so I have to put effort into everything else if I want to accomplish anything,” he said.

(Full Story)



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