Create Now targets our arts programs on abused, neglected, abandoned, orphaned and homeless kids in the region. However, our school-based classes also reach the most disadvantaged children at Title 1 schools who receive free lunches, but no arts education. Our workshops help to prevent dropouts, poverty and violence.
The growth of literacy and math skills are the foundation for children to do well at school, socialize with others, become independent, manage money and work. But in 2015-2016, 52% of California's students failed to meet the standards in English, and 71% didn't reach the math standards.
Researchers have found that both musical ability and literacy correlate with enhanced electrical signals within the auditory brain stem, and that an awareness of beats can influence the way children assimilate speech patterns, which can affect their reading and writing abilities.
Create Now has initiated our fourth year of collaboration with Youth Policy Institute by providing our programs in East Hollywood and Pacoima through the LA Promise Neighborhood initiative, which is sponsored by the Department of Education.
Last Fall, Master Teaching Artist Beth Sussman taught 135third grade students at Ramona Elementary School in East Hollywood Musically Speaking, which is based on the steady beat. Teachers reported that 100% of Beth's students showed great improvement in cooperation and working in teams. They also improved 100% in feeling more confident to raise their hands and share in class. This is in addition to tremendous acceleration of their reading fluency and knowledge of music terminology and notation.
Beth's current Musically Speaking workshops are teaching 125 new children how to keep a steady beat through dance, singing and fun games that focus on history, logic, reasoning, critical thinking, language arts and math - all through the lens of music. She remarked, "On the first day, it was pretty exciting that many of the new third graders had already learned the warm-up song from last year's third graders. I'm often greeted by kids with 'Che Che Kule' - a chant from Ghana."
She's been so successful that Beth is also teaching two classes of SDC (Special Day Class) children. Their teachers are amazed at the impact that Beth's classes have on the students, especially those with very challenging behavior and learning disabilities.
Beth remarked, "I focus on steady beat (for reading fluency and comprehension), patterns and rhythm (for fractions and division), and learning and applying musical terms to connect to reading and speaking with expression. One of the SDC children, Jordy, came over to me and said 'The music has a psychic power over me.' Another SDC boy, David, loves to dance and wants to become a Zumba teacher."
Watch this short video to experience first-hand the powerful affect of Beth's program.