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Nonprofit Demonstrates Music Education Can Produce Results Overall

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A non-profit organization that provides city schools with full-time music teachers says it's found that music class can lead to higher English and math scores. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Music class is a bright spot at P.S. 68 in the Bronx, a school that's struggling in many other ways.

One hundred percent of students qualify for free lunch and teachers report to the Department of Education that there aren't enough resources to keep kids engaged or support them socially and emotionally.

It's exactly schools like this that often don't have music class at all.

Students at P.S. 68 are singing, dancing and playing instruments thanks to an organization called Education Through Music. It works in 28 high-needs schools, helping teachers integrate music throughout the curriculum and providing certified music teachers, who see every student at least once a week.

"There are some students who have a really hard time in class both concentrating and maybe discipline-wise, but then they come into my orchestra and they know exactly what they're doing. They sit down, they take out their instruments," says music teacher Mary Laundry.

The mayor says that increasing partnerships with arts organizations like Education Through Music is one of his goals for the additional $23 million in arts funding set aside this year.

Another goal: getting more certified teachers into classrooms. As of 2013, though, 59 percent of schools didn't have a full-time music teacher, so even with the additional money, it's very likely that many still won't.

"We'd love to put ourselves out of business. We would love to see every child in New York City have that qualified music instructor," says Katherine Damkohler, Executive Director of the project.  

In the meantime, they're studying what effects the program has on the 15,000 students it serves.

Their researchers found that at schools with the music program, students scored 5.4 percentage points higher on state math exams and 4.6 percentage points higher on English compared to students at similar schools without music education.

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