Benton Harbor Charter School Academy partners with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra to provide lessons through their Music Maker after-school program

Students are excited to be part of the Music Makers after-school program at Benton Harbor Charter School Academy. Benton Harbor Charter School Academy saw an opportunity to partner with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra to bring music to their students who don’t otherwise have this opportunity at the school.

The Music Makers program offers basic instrument fundamentals lessons after school with members of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. They bring in instruments and let the students play so the burden of having to rent or purchase an instrument is alleviated.

The program’s purpose aligns directly with Benton Harbor Charter School Academy’s vision by creating a daily haven of safety, joy and fun that builds every child’s self-esteem and sense of value.

“It is proven that children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons,” Jordan Hamilton, the lead instructor for the Music Makers team, said.

“I am passionate about the city of Benton Harbor and making music. There are some incredible musicians in the walls of this school and we just have to provide opportunities,” Hamilton said.

From the very beginning of the school year, interest was so high that parents and students packed into an informational session about the program.

With the help of the Benton Harbor Charter School Academy teachers, twelve 5th and 6th grade students were chosen to be part of the program for the entire year. Students were selected based off of interest and academic behavior in the classroom. They met twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The final concert was held in May in front of teachers, students and families. It was a proud moment for all.

The students not only learned how to play an instrument, but they also got a glimpse about the difference between written music and how to learn music through hearing. Each student did exercises to learn the pieces and then they learned how to write their own. They performed these pieces at the final concert.

Not only did the students grow musically, they learned about themselves and each other as well. A strong bond between the students was formed.

“This program wasn’t just about learning technical and musical skills, it was both a placed filled with love and support like family and a place to learn about music,” Hamilton said.

“It was incredible to see the growth in these students throughout the course of the year,” Tim Harris, principal at Benton Harbor Charter School Academy, said. “Some of them will continue playing and this might be the connection that they needed to thrive.”

“We are so thankful that the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra partnered with us to allow for this program. Jordan was an exceptional teacher and leader. He connected with our students on all different levels and we are grateful.”

Next fall, the Music Makers program will be in its fifth year and will continue at Benton Harbor Charter School Academy for its second year.