Connecting Students with Opportunity at the 2018 College Fair for Musicians

 College Fair attendees listening to announcements from the stage. Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper

College Fair attendees listening to announcements from the stage. Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper

Not unlike any big event, months of preparation, organization (spear-headed by no one other than Sam Apgar), and sweat went into putting on our annual College Fair for Musicians, and it was a smashing success, thanks to a team effort from our staff, interns, and volunteers. We could not have been happier with the results—a turn out of over 300 attendees, representatives from 45 colleges, universities, and conservatories from around the country, and press coverage from all local major news stations. You can read more about our Fair in this Inquirer article.

The day before the Fair, Sam, Joseph, Susanna, Andy (our intern), and Youth Advisory Council members stuffed over 400 bags with Project 440 swag, brochures, and programs for our attendees. What could have been a mundane event was actually a nice bonding activity. Agnes, one of our YAC volunteers, was gracious enough to spend her birthday helping Project 440 so there were cupcakes and pizza. Upon the students discovering that Joe had never seen Shrek, Marquise promptly pulled up the movie on the screen, providing background entertainment for the afternoon.

 Swag stuffing party! Photo Credit: Samantha Apgar

Swag stuffing party! Photo Credit: Samantha Apgar

 Clark Connor leads a workshop on recording yourself for auditions. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

Clark Connor leads a workshop on recording yourself for auditions. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

The day of the College Fair started bright and early for Team Project 440 with a 7am arrival at the Kimmel Center.  It was all worth it as our college registration, attendee registration, and set up for the 6 workshops on college admissions topics went smoothly.  The morning sessions included An Overview of College Prep, College Audition Prep, and Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Music. The afternoon sessions were on Scholarships and Financial Aid, College Essay Writing, and Tips on Recording Yourself for Auditions. Students seemed to find the Audition workshops to be the most helpful in addressing anxieties about this part of the application process.

 Councilman David Oh presenting Joseph Conyers with Citation from the City Council. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

Councilman David Oh presenting Joseph Conyers with Citation from the City Council. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

City Councilman David Oh made an appearance close to lunchtime to present Joseph with a citation recognizing the important work Project 440 is doing for the Philadelphia community. “Whereas, the College Fair for Musicians is an extraordinary opportunity that helps young musicians to connect to advanced education resources and be more effective in the realm of music and society by providing them with much needed leadership and talents that will strengthen our Music Community, our City, and our Country.” While what drives Joseph and Team Project 440 to work tirelessly towards putting on an event like the College Fair for Musicians comes from our deep desire to “do good,” it is nice to have some public recognition. We were truly happy that Joseph received this honor during the Fair.

 Juilliard representative speaking to College Fair attendee. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

Juilliard representative speaking to College Fair attendee. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski


The feedback we’ve been receiving from the attendee’s post-College Fair surveys has been overwhelmingly positive. Many attendees felt that they were “exposed to many more options for colleges,” “more open to different types of programs in college,” and “were considering different career paths in music.” Attendees were impressed with the diversity and the number of colleges that were present at the Fair and found that the college representatives were “welcoming in their ability to answer any question no matter how vague or specific,” “ informative and approachable,” and “knew what kind of student the school generally attracts.”

 Cigus “The College Fairy” Vanni presenting a workshop on An Overview of College Prep. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

Cigus “The College Fairy” Vanni presenting a workshop on An Overview of College Prep. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

Cigus, the College Fairy, who teaches Instruments for Success and led the Overview of College Prep workshops says: "How great is it when forty-five of the colleges and conservatories with the most high-quality music programs in the country come to YOUR venue for YOU?  That's what a college fair is--and it provides each student with the opportunity to interact personally with school representatives that can answer questions, address concerns and provide insight and nuance.  Finding the right "fit" between student and program is critical--and what a great opportunity the college fair provides!"

 Winner of the Sixers tickets in the raffle at the end of the day. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

Winner of the Sixers tickets in the raffle at the end of the day. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

The day concluded with a raffle drawing for attendees who attended 3 or more workshops offered throughout the day. Through in-kind sponsorships, we were able to give away a Wawa gift basket, gift cards to Cheesecake Factory, Chipotle, Amazon, and South, concert tickets to Philly POPs, Kimmel Center, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and perhaps most excitingly, Sixers tickets donated to us by Board member, Jonathan Fink. The look on the winner’s face just says it all— hopefully he left the Fair with a lot of great information on college admissions, but he may have been most happy to leave with those Sixers tickets in hand :)

*Many many thanks are in order to all of our in-kind sponsors; all of our raffle items were donations from Board members Mary Javian, Blake Espy, Jon Fink, plus all of the organizations named above; the print job of our beautiful programs were donated to us by Media Copy; our day was captured by the talents of Ed Hille, Rick Urbanowski, and our very own Chloe Cooper; lunchtime entertainment was provided by the Dan McCain Quartet; Fox & Hound offered us coupons for attendee swag bags; Frederick Oster Fine Violins and Stephanie M. Schwartzberg Esq. were fiscal sponsors. And of course thank you to our volunteer team-- YAC members, Thomas Meany, and Teresa Montano.

 Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper

Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper



Joseph Conyers, Project 440 Founder and Executive Director, honored by Sphinx Organization

The Sphinx Organization, the social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, has announced the 2019 recipients of the Sphinx Medals of Excellence. Project 440 Founder and Executive Director Joseph H. Conyers is among the recipients of this prestigious award. The other recpients are Raquel González and Will Liverman.

  Click here  to download the full press release.

Click here to download the full press release.

Sphinx annually honors three emerging Black or Latinx classical musicians with the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. Through a national nomination process, Sphinx identifies musicians early in their professional career who demonstrate the following qualities: artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination and ongoing commitment to leadership. The recipients each receive a $50,000 career grant, bestowed in Washington D.C. at a private luncheon hosted by The Kennedy Center and the Aspen Institute, and celebrated at a black-tie gala. The eighth annual Sphinx Medals of Excellence celebration will take place on March 20, 2019.

Sphinx President Afa S. Dworkin shared, “It is an honor and privilege to celebrate three outstanding artists of color in our nation’s capital. In the midst of a divisive climate, music truly unites us all. The incredible recipients of theSphinx Medal of Excellence are sources of light and inspiration in the classical music field and in our communities at large, and I cannot wait to see what each of them will accomplish.”

About Joseph H. Conyers: Double bassist Joseph H. Conyers was appointed assistant principal bassist of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010 after tenures with the Atlanta Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, and Grand Rapids Symphony where he served as principal bass. A formidable advocate for music education, he is executive director of Project 440, an organization that engages, educates, and inspires young musicians, providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders.

A Project 440 Alum Returns: A Reflection from Hannah Silverberg

 
 Hannah at a Project 440 event in June.

Hannah at a Project 440 event in June.

 
 Hannah playing flute at a Project 440/Philadelphia International Music Festival community performance.

Hannah playing flute at a Project 440/Philadelphia International Music Festival community performance.

Hannah is a rising sophomore at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. She is also an alumna of both All City Orchestra and Project 440! It was such a treat to have her with us this summer and we are so impressed by the leadership that she showed as our Program Intern. Read more about her experience below!

 

Q: What made you decide to intern with Project 440?
During my last years of high school, I gained valuable information from the workshops available to me as well as the amazing opportunity of being a fellow in the Project 440 fellowship program. I knew that I was so lucky to have this experience, and since I wanted to give back and help others the way I was helped, I saw this internship as the perfect medium. It provided me with a way to help aspiring musicians as well as learn a new hands-on experiences that could not be gained from conservatory education alone. 

Q: What are the key things you learned from the internship?
One big thing that I learned is that in working for an organization that is dedicated to doing good, no job, no matter how small, is insignificant. The word ‘intern’ sometimes comes with the connotation of repetitive and less exciting work, but in the end, the work that gets done affects everyone in the organization positively and is of service to the students we are dedicated to helping. I learned that, just as every cog is important in the functioning of a machine, it was important and motivating to me to step back and look at the big picture of how Project 440 operates and helps. The biggest insight that I was able take away from the internship was learning that when you are working with the right people in the right organization, that has a mission you believe in, and everyone’s heart is in the right place –– then you are willing to do the best job you can, and go above and beyond, which makes the outcome even more rewarding! 

Q: What aspects of the internship did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed being able to see an organization from both sides –– from the perspective of the providers of our services and from the perspective of those we have served. Since I was a student in high school receiving information from the organization, I was excited to intern with Project 440 because I knew of all the benefits this organization can provide to aspiring musicians and I knew the tools for success that were offered. Everyone who is involved with Project 440 truly believes in the good of the organization and the good works of the organization, which inspired me everyday to work my hardest. The Project 440 team may be small, but together, provide experiences that can change a life.

From the Classroom to Practice: A Reflection from Zoë Yeshayahu

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Zoë is a rising senior at DePauw University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Musical Arts with an emphasis in business. This summer, Project 440 was lucky enough to have Zoë join us as an Administrative Intern! Below she shares some reflections on her time with the organization. 

We at Project 440 would like to thank Zoë for all of her hard work! We'll definitely miss having her as a part of the team.

Q: What made you decide to intern with Project 440?
A: Last summer when I worked for a small nonprofit group, I learned that going into this summer I wanted to continue working with small organizations that seek to include and mentor aspiring youth. Project 440 seemed like the perfect fit! What attracted me the most was Project 440's mission statement:
“Project 440 engages, educates and inspires young musicians, providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders.” 
I felt that the mission statement fits in well with what I love the most about nonprofit work - helping and inspiring young musicians to keep chasing their dreams of being a musician.

Q: What aspects of this internship surprised you the most?
A: What surprised me was that Sam [the Managing Director] always kept me on my toes. No two days were the same, which was great! Every day I was faced with challenges that pushed my learning and implementing of new skills, such as forcing myself to think outside of the box. The experience was the best surprise I could have asked for. Having this internship allowed me to not only grow in the nonprofit world but also grow as a young adult. 

Q: What aspects of the internship did you enjoy the most?
A: At Project 440,  I was finally able to engage in real-world experiences, putting into practice what I’ve learned in the courses I’ve taken at DePauw. I engaged and was exposed to marketing, finance, handling of different projects, board meetings, and production making, and I also assisted with research and grant applications. Pushing my undergrad education beyond textbook understandings was irreplaceable. A nonprofit internship with Project 440 gave me the opportunity to become engaged in real-world, day-to-day work dedicated to people and music.  

 Interns Hannah Silverberg (left) and Zoe Yeshayahu (right) at a Project 440 event.

Interns Hannah Silverberg (left) and Zoe Yeshayahu (right) at a Project 440 event.

Q: What are the key things you learned from the internship?
A: An intern’s role changes quickly so be prepared to:

  • Never expect every day to go as planned

  • Push yourself to think outside the box

  • Be creative in unexpected ways

Hone and take advanced classes in:

  • Video production

  • Marketing

  • Finance

  • iMovie

Q: What are some of your goals for the future?
A: I am going to graduate school to learn and expand my knowledge in Arts Administration. Hopefully, after graduate school, I would be working with a small nonprofit organization and working my way up to lead a nonprofit that will help young musicians grow as artist and entrepreneurs.

Project 440 isn't saying "Goodbye" we are saying "Have fun on your next adventure Leonard!"

 On June 7th we said goodbye to our amazing intern Leonard. He will be working with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the rest of the summer! 

On June 7th we said goodbye to our amazing intern Leonard. He will be working with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the rest of the summer! 

Leonard's Personal Statment

Q: What aspects of this internship surprised you the most?

A: What surprised me the most from my time at Project 440 was how much work can get done with so few people working for the organization. The team of Project 440 may be small, but the things they can get done are truly remarkable. When I was a senior in high school, I remember Project 440 offering a number of workshops for All City musicians. Back then, I thought Project 440 must have been a fairly large organization to be able to offer so many workshops for high school students. Little did I know that all of those workshop were planned and put into fruition by as little as one or two people. I learned that the efforts of a few good people can positively change the lives of a disproportionately large amount of students, and I will never forget that.

Q: What aspects of the internship did you enjoy the most?

A: One of my favorite parts of the internship was being able to see all of the work I did for Project 440 pay off. There were a couple projects which I had been working on for many months and to see them finally completed is the greatest feeling. Some intern work can get fairly tedious, but when it is all finished, that feeling of accomplishment is worth it. Another great aspect of the work was all of the influential people I got to meet and work with over the past seven months. Each person has individual wisdoms which they are happy to pass down and I hope I was able to give my part as well. There is no equivalent to the relationships I have made through Project 440.

Q: What are the key things you learned from the internship?

A: The most important thing I learned is what I previously mentioned: That the efforts of a few good people can positively change the lives of a disproportionately large amount of students. However, that is not all I learned from my time at Project 440. I learned that a laptop is really all you need to manage a successful organization. I learned that real world experience is much more educational than classroom lectures. I learned that it helps to know people, especially in the arts. Lastly, I learned that it is okay to ask questions if you need help. As an intern, you are not expected to know all the answers right from the get go and I was able to grow from this position because I didn’t know everything. With guidance, I have improved in many areas, including writing, communication, and innovative decision making, all because I was not afraid to ask for help.  

 

 

Its graduation season and we're so proud of our Doing Good graduates!

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June 7th was a big event for the young musicians you see pictured above. They have officially graduated from our new flagship program, Doing Good!

Doing Good is a 30-week intense after-school program that teaches high school music students the basics of social entrepreneurship and community engagement. This program is broken up into two semesters. The first semester the students get to learn the “ins and outs” of social entrepreneurship, leadership, and community engagement. During the second semester, they get to put their skills to the test by creating and executing their projects. A special thank you to our two amazing teaching artists Susanna Loewy and Michael O’Bryan! Want to read more about Doing Good? Here's a link!

 

This year's project were: 

Teens with Ambition
Imani Sanders-Rasul & Aj’ee Robinson

Two students collaborated to design and host a youth-centered event that addresses the lack of access students have to after-school and out-of-school time programs. The event consisted of a concert and resource fair that brought together a variety of arts, media, social justice, and leadership programs across the region. The team also provided free food and refreshments as a draw to students.

Everyone is so talented in this program, and it was really nice to be in the same room as other musicians who cared as much as I do.
— Imani Sanders-Rasul


Open Genre Music Book
Joseph Trachtman, Oleksandr Kashlyuk & Percy Weaver

This trio of students identified a common thread amongst themselves: they all loved music but hated practicing. They also imagined, and surveyed, other students with similar feelings. Their solution was simple: build a process that allows students to take their favorite songs, from any genre, and put them into templates that can be utilized for practice on their instrument of choice.

Doing Good taught me about the ins and outs of starting a business, and the difficulties and challenges of working with others. It’s one thing to have a good idea. It’s much more difficult to actually make something concrete.”
— Joe Trachtman


Generation Music
Claire Casanova & Chloe Cooper

Generation Music saw two students collaborate to design a music appreciation curriculum for middle schoolers currently involved in band and orchestra programs. Their goal was to increase the general interest of students of color for classical music, ultimately hoping to impact the orchestral world and diversify its participants. Generation Music has since been approved for fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas and is currently collaborating with the Template Community Scholars Music Program.

Project 440 gave me the opportunity to experience what teaching students would be like, and has helped me decide that I do want to go into music education.
— Claire Casanova

Center City Chamber Orchestra
Marquise Bradley, Davey Hiester, Jeramie Miller & Percy Weaver

A quartet of minds brainstormed an opportunity to create chamber music with minimal help from adults. They succeeded in making that happen and created a youth led chamber orchestra called The Center City Chamber Orchestra (CCCO). Since the end of Doing Good, CCCO has established a board and is currently planning additional performances for spring 2019. One of the founding members of CCCO shared, “The Doing Good program has allowed me to see how far you can take music without actually playing your instrument, and it has also has helped me to learn leadership skills that I wouldn’t have learned in school. 

The Doing Good program has allowed me to see how far you can take music without actually playing your instrument and its also has helped me learned leadership skills that I wouldn’t have learned in school.
— Marquise Bradly

 

This program is supported in part by a generous grant from the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by funding from the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.