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Striking a ‘Crescendo’ in after-school arts programming

TIM – CRESCENDO

TRANSCRIPT AND CAPTION CORREX

10/6/23

 

 

Many children in Detroit do not

have access to music education

 

CALEB

CRESCENDO PARTICIPANT

Crescendo is a program that, it’s hard to say it, but Crescendo is a musical program that teaches kids about music.

 

A U-M grad created an after school music program

that helps foster a love of the arts

and builds character

 

ANGEL INGRAM

SITE DIRECTOR

Crescendo

We are trying to bring the arts back into Detroit, while teaching our children how to be a good citizen, be kind, know that they can make a difference in the world.

 

 

Crescendo Detroit, a non-profit organization,

has offered youth programs centered

on instrumental music and dance since 2013

 

 

DAMIEN CRUTCHER

FOUNDER & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CRESCENDO

University of Michigan MM in Orchestral Conducting

We started crescendo about 11 years ago, when we noticed that there were no kids walking from home with instrument cases.

Well, this is weird. When I was growing up, everyone had an instrument case walking from school and everything, and so we noticed that. And so, we wanted to make sure our kids had access to music and instruments and dance. And so, it’s important that they have that space. Could you imagine going to school all day and only having math and science and history?

 

Crescendo also teaches

literacy and life skills,

while providing homework support,

and daily meals and snacks

 

MADISYN

CRESCENDO PARTICIPANT

Crescendo has helped me get out there, because I’m usually a shy person, but it’s helped me be able to interact with more people that I don’t know at all.

 

JORDAN

CRESCENDO PARTICIPANT

Music is important because it gives a sense of discipline that can be transferred everywhere in all aspects of your life, not just music.

 

Participants have gone on to become

musicians, doctors, and other industry professionals,

who credit the program with providing

them crucial support in their youth

 

SHERRILLE BRYANT-CARTER

PARENT OF CRESCENDO PARTICIPANT

It takes a village, and this village is good for any and every student or child within the city of Detroit.

 

 

CALEB

CRESCENDO PARTICIPANT

Before, I didn’t like music that much. I didn’t like dancing. I didn’t want to dance at all. But then, when I got to Crescendo, I started to dance. Now, I still love singing and dancing.

 

Video Produced by Harry Mayers, Michigan Media All photos by Erin Kirkland, Michigan Photography
By Jamie Sherman, Michigan News

DETROIT—For Madisyn Jordan, a 10th grade student in Detroit, playing violin and participating in classes at Crescendo Detroit has helped her to feel more comfortable trying new things, approaching new people and expressing herself.

She says, through music, “I can play it whenever I am feeling happy, sad or stressed out, and that’s where I go to relax myself and everything.”

A student wearing headphones squeals with joy while listening to their creation

A student reacts while listening to their creation during music production class at Crescendo Detroit, an after-school program for children ages 5 to 18 that develops music and dance programming to promote artistic excellence and character building.

She was introduced to Crescendo in 2019 by her cousin, Jordan Harris.

Harris is what the Crescendo team refer to as a “legacy student” and has spent every summer with Crescendo for the past 10 years. Crescendo’s founder, University of Michigan alum Damien Crutcher, has known Harris’ mother since she was a student in a sixth grade band class he taught in 1991. They have stayed in touch through the years and she enrolled her son in Crutcher’s new venture when it was founded in 2013.

The program is “rigorous, but you will come out of here a much more well-rounded person than you were before.”

~ Jordan Harris, Crescendo Detroit participant

Now, Harris says he enjoys learning about all the different ways the value of music can be applied to his life.

Damien Crutcher standing in front of theater lights while wearing a Crescendo Detroit t-shirt under a suit jacket

“Music is important because it gives a sense of discipline that can be transferred everywhere, in all aspects of your life, not just music,” he said. “And it’s fun. It’s a good way to express yourself.”

With his eye on a career in engineering, Harris still believes Crescendo can help him prepare for the future he wants. He says the program is “rigorous, but you will come out of here a much more well-rounded person than you were before.”

Thomas Butler reaches out to a student during a dance lesson

With literacy and life skill courses, the program uses a youth-centered approach that addresses the full life of the child that they believe can improve discipline, focus and self-esteem.

Crescendo is an after-school program for children ages 5 to 18 that develops music and dance programming to promote artistic excellence and character building. With literacy and life skill courses, homework support and daily meals and snacks, the program uses a youth-centered approach that addresses the full life of the child that they believe can improve discipline, focus and self-esteem.

Crescendo was designed to address a lack in arts education in the city of Detroit.

Students grab a meal from a long table with adults serving food

The approach includes daily meals and snacks.

“We started Crescendo about 11 years ago when we noticed that there were no kids walking home with instrument cases. We thought, ‘Well, this is weird.’ When I was growing up, everyone had an instrument case walking from school,” Crutcher said. “We wanted to make sure that our kids had access to music, instruments and dance. It’s important that they have that space. Could you imagine going to school all day and only having math and science and history?”

Thomas Butler at a table with two students and piles of homework papers

Assistant site director and dance instructor Thomas Butler helps students with homework.

In many cases, enrichment programs are located near schools or in city centers requiring families to transport their children. This can create a barrier to participation for families without transportation access. For this reason, Crescendo opened up within the Dexter-Davison neighborhood of its participants, in close proximity to where they live.

Caoilfhionn Davis leads a vocal lesson with students

Crescendo opened up within the Dexter-Davison neighborhood of its participants, in close proximity to where they live.

Now, Crescendo has worked with roughly 125 students in Detroit and also has partnerships with institutions like U-M and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. A group of students perform with the DSO Youth Orchestra, Symphony Band, and Jazz Band. They also participate in composition classes and the DSO’s Senza program, which is sponsored by the Mellon Foundation.

Three students perform a song and dance

Students perform a song and dance during a lesson with vocal and music theater director Caoilfhionn Davis.

Crescendo also has a partnership with U-M in which participants visit the Ann Arbor campus regularly and work with music education students and attend performances through the University Musical Society.

“When we went to U-M for the very first time, being able to be there with college students and seeing the campus and being able to learn things from them was very, very cool,” Jordan said of one of her U-M visits.

A student looking thoughtful while responding to a question from social worker

Student Caleb Barnes responds to a question from a social worker during a social emotional lesson at the Detroit Temple Salvation Army.

“I remember when we last went, we went to the dance studio and we learned some African dances and it was very entertaining. You got to learn about a culture that not a lot of people knew about and she showed us dance moves and how much pressure they put into their dances and you got to learn a lot about their history.”

Andre Charley leads a discussion with students. One student has their hand raised.

Social worker Andre Charley leads a social emotional learning session.

With additional visits to places like the cider mill for cider and hayrides, concerts at the DSO and an annual trip to Cedar Point each summer, the students have no shortage of opportunities for fun or learning.

As far as Crescendo’s aim to improve focus, discipline and self-esteem, one mother had this to say about her fourth grade daughter’s experience: “She wasn’t really that into school. She did the work. She did fine, but just enough to get by. This has made her more disciplined in what she intends to do in the near future. Before Crescendo, she never mentioned going to college. Now she’s talking about going to college, learning to play the flute and taking it overseas maybe, and even teaching.”

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