A collaborative Eastman initiative is affecting positive social change for disadvantaged children in downtown Rochester through the gift of music education. The ROCmusic program, now in its second year, has enjoyed success in offering local community students a chance to expand their creative horizons through instruction from Eastman staff members, students, and graduates. It is a joint effort that allows the Eastman School of Music partner with the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, the Eastman Community Music School, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rochester City School District, and the City of Rochester.
Parents of students in the program notice positive changes in their children’s school work and general behavior. The program also fosters a sense of community, with more senior participants in the program becoming mentors to younger music students.
ROCmusic also collaborates with a local musical group called Sound ExChange, a group comprised of Eastman graduates that regularly hosts educational concerts at schools. The latest ROCmusic concert featured collaborative performances from the ensemble and enrolled students. Alexander Peña, the director of ROC music and a member of the Sound ExChange project, sees the importance of music in improving students’ lives.
According to Dean Jamal Rossi of the Eastman School of music, the ROCmusic Collaborative was started out of concern. “Are we being as effective as we desire in reaching a population of students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to music?” asked the Dean. Rossi also feels that every child deserves the opportunity to “experience the joy” of making music. “Music transforms lives.” Through the ROCmusic program, these transformations are both possible and immediately observable.