Project 440 Teams Up with The Mann Center, School District of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Orchestra

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Project 440, The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, School of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Orchestra are teaming up to host a free program for the students of Philadelphia. This is a summer experience built to serve rising 8th grade through 12th grade instrumental students in the School District of Philadelphia.

All City Orchestra Summer Academy (ACOSA) will help extend the All City Orchestra program into the summer months, giving the opportunity for students to enjoy a high-quality music learning experience close to home.

The two-week program will be held from July 15 to 26 at the Mann Center, which is the same time the Philadelphia Orchestra will be in residence for concerts at the Fairmount Park amphitheater.

Project 440 will be providing enrichment support to the program in conjunction with the students' musical learning experience. This includes life skills, college and career prep, and mind and body classes for the students to take their learning throughout their lives and careers.

Project 440 will hold sessions in Mindfulness and Movement, Smart Practice Tools, Community Engagement and Interactive Performance, and Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Susanna Loewy, Project 440 Program Director, added “All of these sessions will be led by Project 440 Teaching Artists. We believe that music should be used as a tool to help students gain and apply important 21st century skill sets that will help them during their careers.”

Joseph Conyers, Project 440 Executive Director and All City Orchestra music director, explained that the goal of ACOSA is not to create more professional musicians. “Our goal is to use music as the tool with which to teach important life skills that are transferable into any industry they wish to pursue - literally using music as an instrument for success,” he said. He continued by saying “If students do, however, want to pursue music, not only will we be able to identify and connect them with a local artistic partner through ACOSA, but those students will have the entrepreneurial mindset to become successful at their craft.”

We are excited to be working with such great partners on a project designed to help the young people of Philadelphia grow and develop. You can read more about ACOSA in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.

Congratulations and Thanks to the Seniors with Project 440

As the school year, Doing Good, and Instruments for Success comes to an end, we want to start by congratulating them on all of their hard work and accomplishments. The students in our programs have gone to school to learn from the amazing teachers in Philadelphia while also taking time after school to learn and prepare for college and their future careers. We have enjoyed spending time with these young leaders and want to thank them for joining us in this learning experience, especially the members of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

YAC consists of alumni of Project 440 programs, the School District of Philadelphia, and other young leaders from throughout the region with a passion for music education. Participants meet monthly and receive leadership, project management, governance and advocacy training. The mission of YAC is to use peer to peer influence to ensure diverse representation in Project 440’s programs and to provide feedback on program content. You can read more about YAC here!

We want to give a special thanks and shoutout to the YAC members for helping us grow and better serve the young people of Philadelphia. Here is the list of graduating seniors:

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Chloe Cooper

University of Tampa

Music Education

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Claire Casanova

Temple University

Music Education

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Malinda Voell

Temple University

Flute Performance

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Marquise Bradley

Cleveland Institute of Music

Clarinet Performance

We are very excited to see what each and every one of our seniors accomplishes as they take the next steps in their lives. Congratulations!

Congratulations to the Doing Good Class of 2019!

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We celebrated the 2019 Doing Good Graduation on May 9th and could not have ask for a better night! Doing Good is a 30-week intensive after-school entrepreneurial program that provides guidance to high school musicians who want to positively impact their communities. The unique curriculum challenges students to view their curiosity about the world as a window through which they can see the needs, gaps, and opportunities they are best equipped to address. Click here to learn more about Doing Good!

The graduation served as their final project for the program, presenting their community based artistic projects that they have begun to the graduation attendees! This year’s projects were:

T. Arts

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Our plan is to give, inspire, and expose the arts to students who need it to a program that will allow children who attend non-arts schools, to put on a show that includes both film acting and musical theater. They will have time to practice and perform each of their numbers, and get to enjoy the thrill of the dramatic arts.

Center City Chamber Orchestra+ (CCCO+)

Daniel Kim & Justin Williams

We plan to contribute to the Center City Chamber Orchestra - an orchestra created by students, performed by students, and led by students - by creating an educational component to their programming.

Generation Music

Chloe Cooper, Claire Casanova, Nayyirah Wood,

Kintan Silvany & Naomi Lukov

To educate the youth in classical music with a series interactive workshops and lessons through student knowledge of music.

Project Princeps

Jake Richards, Sarah Casanova & Grace Flickinger

To give every child the chance to experience the power of books through musically minded entrepreneurial ventures.

We want to send special thanks to our program director and teaching artist Susanna Loewy, teaching artist Nozomi Imamura, and the Curtis Institute for Music for sharing their space with us.

Project 440 Receives Support from Marple Newtown High School Tri-M Music Honor Society

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On May 7th, 2019, the Marple Newtown High School held their induction ceremony for the newest chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. During this celebration, they announced that they donated $1,100 to Project 440 in support of our programs and the work we do for the communities in Philadelphia. The support of a group of hard-working and generous young people is one of our greatest motivators, and we are excited to continue working for the young people of Philadelphia.

The Tri-M Music Honor Society students recently completed a service project in which they raised $1,100 to donate to an organization they believed in. During one of their meetings, Jake Olimpi (Advisor of Tri-M) mentioned Project 440 and explained our mission and programs. Olimpi said this about the students’ reactions, “Their eyes lit up. Applying skills learned through music to the real world is something we strive to teach here at Marple Newtown so it only made sense to contribute to a program that helped students so close to our school.”

As our programs begin to wrap-up and we congratulate our graduating seniors, we want to also thank and congratulate the students of Marple Newtown’s Tri-M Society on a successful service project and a generous donation. We hope to continue to inspire these students and can’t wait to see what they accomplish in their futures!

Project 440 Student Spotlight: Javon Miner

Meet Project 440 Doing Good student, Javon Miner! Our interview highlights how participating in Project 440 has influenced his outlook on a career in the arts.

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Q. Can you tell me about yourself and your relationship with music?

My name is Javon, and I’m an actor from Philadelphia. Even though acting is my main passion, I’ve also dabbled with music. I’ve been playing the drums for awhile now, and I’m currently trying to learn how to play the piano.

Q. How did you hear about Project 440 and what is your involvement with us?

I heard about Project 440 in late 2018. They came to my school to promote it to my class.


Q. I heard that you thought there might be a “catch” to Project 440 providing a stipend to students for completing our programs; after being in Doing Good for a whole year, what is the verdict?

When they told the class that they are willing to pay students who are involved in the program, the first thought in my mind was that there was a catch, but after being in the program I realized that there wasn’t anything suspicious about it. It was straightforward in fact. You had to be there and do the assignments. That’s it. Your attendance and the work you do is counted toward you stipend.

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Q. Has participating in Doing Good changed the way you view music and the arts as a career path?

Being apart of the Project 440 program helped me understand that music is not only something that gives people pleasure. It can also be used as medicine. Music can be a way that people cope with problems they may have. It can also be used to convey certain messages and meanings to its audience.

Q. Has Project 440 helped you in pursuing your future goals?

Ms. Susanna is the person who teaches my class alongside Mr. Nozomi. She contacted a friend of hers and and helped set up a meeting for me and her friend to discuss my real-estate interest. After that I was offered an internship with the firm. All thanks to my teacher.





Project 440 Teaching Artist Spotlight: Nozomi Imamura

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Meet Project 440 Teaching Artist, Nozomi Imamura! Our interview highlights how and why he got involved with this organization, as well as an in-depth understanding of how he practices what he preaches to the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

Q: How did you get involved with Project 440, and what drew you to this organization?

I first started working as a teaching artist during Project 440’s summer music program at Philadelphia International Music Festival. And now I co-teach one of the curriculums called Doing Good. To be completely honest, Joseph Conyers is one of my biggest inspirations as a musician, educator, and fitness enthusiast, and I wanted to have opportunities to work with him.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a Teaching Artist?

Being able to connect, mentor, and inspire people to open up their potential through music.

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Q: Like most of the Project 440 staff, you wear many hats outside of your work as a Teaching Artist. Can you speak about what other projects/ensembles/organizations you are involved with outside of Project 440?

I am a Community Artist Fellow from the Curtis Institute of Music, and through the fellowship program I work as a band director at South Philadelphia High School and work closely with the Project HOME. I am also a regular substitute member for regional orchestras around Philadelphia.

Q: You have also worked in Japan as a performer; do you see a need for programs that Project 440 offer in Japanese society as well?

I have only performed in Japan for a few times, but seeing how community based projects and interactive performances are becoming more and more common and needed, I think it would be great to have curriculums that Project 440 offers in Japan.

Q: If you could give any advice to your high school self with regards to college applications and career choices, what would it be?

Be yourself and don’t try to fit in. When you find something you can be passionate about, take risks and pursue it!

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Music Made Me

By Megan A. Speight, Project 440 Marketing Committee Chair

 “Did you practice?”

My mother always asked me this retched question about 5 minutes into the car ride on the way to my violin lessons. My response was usually the same, going through the motions of looking into her rearview mirror and mumbling something unrecognizable before continuing to eat my snack. Her response was always one of disappointment but at the end of the day, she knew deep down I loved the instrument and the relationship I had with it.

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I started taking violin lessons at the age of 4 following the Suzuki method. However, my love for music didn't start there. My mother played all types of music for me while she was pregnant and I took a Mommy and Me music class that started when I was about 6 months old. My mother played piano growing up and was adamant that my brother and I also played instruments.

Playing the violin gave me opportunities and confidence that I may not have so easily obtained without it. I never had the opportunity to have stage fright because starting at 5 years old I played concerts for family which later evolved to recitals that featured my violin teacher’s other students. I participated in Suzuki play-ins at the Franklin Institute for years and was one of hundreds of students contributing to filling the halls of the historic museum. Most importantly, at my Grandmother’s orchestration, I began playing at church. In front of the entire congregation. My brother and I were members of our youth choir, but let’s be real, my real talent was playing the violin. I was able to captivate audiences through my voice personified through my instrument. I was small, but my sound and presence were mighty. Seeing a need for another youth activity, the Church Orchestra was formed with my brother and I as founding members. Being in church orchestra allowed me to strengthen my leadership skills, teaching other musicians how to read music and leading my small violin section. To this day, many of my family members and older Church members recognize me as “the girl with the violin” and some even ask if I still play. Unfortunately, I decided to take a break from playing once I graduated High school. Springside School was where I started playing and Springside School was where I had my final recital at my Senior Assembly. One day I plan to pick my old buddy back up, but for now, we are continuing to take some time apart.

While I no longer consider myself a musician, music is what has made me the woman I am today. Through music, I was able to make connections with people, practice new skills and through music, I feel at home. Growing up, my Grandmother not only ensured I was utilizing and showcasing my leadership and musicianship skills at church and beyond, but she also ensured I knew the importance of giving back. Not just to those who helped me get to where I am, but also to my direct and extended community. Growing up I participated in many days of service and participated in a reading program that directly contributed to my mother’s alma mater, Francis D. Pastorius Elementary School. I also have fond memories of riding to D’Ambrosios’s bakery to pick-up rolls that were included in platters that my Grandmother served to the homeless through our church. Ironically, I can still remember how amazing they smelled and how delicious they tasted coming fresh out of the over. My grandmother was also a founding member of our church scholarship committee and also preached the importance of an excellent education. Both my grandparents preached this to me while I was in their care and my parents were living proof of it and set the example for my brother and I on a daily basis. This commitment to service is what spurred my interest and later commitment to serving my community.

After graduating from George Mason University, I moved back to Philadelphia to pursue my Masters at Drexel University. While I was physically home, I felt as though something was missing from my life. Going to work and hanging out with friends only occupies so much of your time and as a millennial, I grew up with a booked calendar of extra-curricular activities. I knew I needed to use my time wisely. I was reminded of my commitment to service and made it a priority once I had finished Grad school and was settled in a job to find an organization that was a mutually good fit for me give back to my community through. After a great deal of research, I was connected to Project 440 through the Young Involved Philadelphia Board Prep Program. With my talents and passion for the arts and supporting my community, I knew that board service was a natural next step in my commitment to giving back. Project 440’s mission, to engage, educate and inspire young musicians, providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders, has and will continue to have a seismic impact on students. Many young musicians need support from organizations offering programs such as the ones at Project 440 to feel encouraged to continue with their passion or have a community to know that they can use their current passions to help evolve them into incredible human beings. I am proud to help continue the legacy and impact that music has on students through my service work with Project 440. I hope that more individuals in my generation step-up to keep music in schools or return them to schools and ensure organizations like Project 440 have the longevity to support and encourage student musicians and students interested in music for generations to come.

More About Megan:

Megan A. Speight is an experienced public relations and communications professional with over 6 years’ experience in the industry. She has worked in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors working for organizations such as Comcast, The Franklin Institute and the National Constitution Center. In her current role as Public Relations Manager at Maternity Care Coalition, Ms. Speight focuses her efforts on media relations, developing and implementing public relations plans, supporting the Fund Development and program staff with events, and co-manages all of the organizations’ social media platforms. Most notably, Ms. Speight has worked on the PA Safe Sleep campaign, a multi-media campaign promoting safe sleep practices for families with newborns, where she manages social media ads, purchased over $150,000 in SEPTA ads, developed a radio PSA, and managed the production of a hospital waiting room video.

Ms. Speight is a native of Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, but currently resides in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of Springside School, obtained her B.A. in Communications from George Mason University and her M.S. in Public Communication from Drexel University. She is the Deputy Director of Public Relations for WIM Global, a Blogger for the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Chair of the Marketing Advisory Committee for Project 440 and a member of the Junior League of Philadelphia.

Project 440 Donor Spotlight: Peter "Tad" LeVan

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Meet Tad LeVan, Donor and Project 440 Board President! Tad is the man behind the scenes, ensuring that our Board is running like a smooth oiled machine. Our interview highlights what drives Tad to give so much to our organization and the important role music has and continues to play in his life.

Q: How did you get to know Project 440?
Back in 2014, my daughter Elena was being inducted in the Tri-M Music Honor Society at Washington Township High School in New Jersey. Joseph Conyers, Project 440’s Executive Director, gave the keynote address at the ceremony.  I was blown away by Joseph’s passion, motivation and vision for using music as a tool to teach important career and life-skills to high school students.  I walked right up to him after the ceremony ended and offered to help any way I could!

Q: What inspired you give to Project 440 as a donor and as a working Board member in your current capacity?
Music has always been an important part of my life.  I was completely taken with the idea of using music to develop educational, entrepreneurial and community-engaging programs to provide direction, assistance and professional advancement to young people.  And, of course, you cannot speak of inspiration without recognizing Joseph himself: His joy, passion and excitement for Project 440 is contagious. It’s impossible to hear Joseph speak and not want to be part of his vision to change the world for the better.  So right from the start I was excited to support Project 440, both financially and by serving on the Board.

Q: Why do you think our work is important?
Our country’s public secondary education system primarily focuses on providing students with substantive knowledge in particular subject-matter areas.  Even in well-administered and fiscally solvent districts, secondary schools rarely provide opportunities for students to develop the entrepreneurial and community-engaging skill sets that are so necessary to thrive in today’s world.  Project 440 fills that gap and provides important service and support in those critical skill areas. As our mission aptly states: “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.”

Q: What is your personal connection to music?
I have happily been involved with music my entire life.  When I was younger, I played piano and trombone, and also performed in several professional musical theater productions.  Even after becoming a trial attorney, music has remained a critically important part of my life. Over the years, I have sung with numerous choral groups, including the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Choral Arts of Philadelphia, and most recently Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey.  In addition, within the past few years I have returned to the stage in musical theater productions after a 30-year hiatus. I have always loved performing in front of an audience but I now have the added benefit of causing great embarrassment to my children! I consider that a win-win.  

Q: How did the skills you developed through your musical involvement/activities help in your career or inform your work approach?
Needless to say, there are numerous similarities between performing onstage and being a trial attorney.   Skills in public speaking, story-telling, and relating to an audience – to name just a few – easily transferred to my professional life and provided a solid foundation upon which to build.  But just as importantly, my early involvement in music taught me how to work within an ensemble, showed me the importance of consistently practicing your craft, and helped me develop the necessary grit to persevere through challenging situations that inevitably arise in any professional setting.  

Music is magical:  It has been a constant pillar in my life and will undoubtedly continue to play a central role in my years to come.  I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to work with Project 440 and share the power of music with the next generation.

Photo from Tad performing.

Photo from Tad performing.

Project 440 Staff Spotlight: Susanna Loewy

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Meet Susanna Loewy, Project 440 Program Director and Lead Teaching Artist! Our interview highlights how and why she got involved with this organization, as well as an in-depth understanding of how she practices what she preaches to the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

Q: You’ve been working for Project 440 since Joseph moved to Philadelphia to join the Philadelphia Orchestra. How did you first get involved, and what drew you to this organization?
Since moving to Philadelphia in 2009, I had been a Teaching Artist for the Philadelphia Orchestra. When Joseph moved to Philly, I was excited to learn about his interest in music education and the paths it can take. The music circles are small, and eventually I got to meet Joe and expressed my interest in his non-profit. The next time he had a Teaching Artist opening, he asked me to help out, and from there our working relationship grew!

Q: You wear many hats at Project 440 (and in general!). Can you speak a little about what you do?
Well, I’m the Program Director and Lead Teaching Artist for P440. As Program Director, I develop and help to implement the programs, such as Doing Good, Instruments for Success, and the College Fair. We also have a series of workshops for PMAY and Philly Orchestra Fellows that I organize. As Lead Teaching Artist, I do a bit of ‘teach the teacher,’ where I train the current Teaching Artists to teach our leadership and entrepreneurship curriculum. I also teach for Doing Good, splitting the classes with another excellent Teaching Artist, Nozomi Imamura.

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Q: How did you become a Teaching Artist?
I became a Teaching Artist through the Philadelphia Orchestra’s School Partnership Program (SPP). The education and training under Mary Javian was wonderful, and I really fell for the Teaching Artistry field. I worked for 9 years; I only gave up my position last spring after starting in the fall of 2009.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a teaching artist?
I love the idea of entry points -- this is the method of using the music to figure out the best way to reach an audience or group of students. If we can understand how to reach each other, then we can understand each other as humans, and what better way to explore music?

Q: You are involved in many organizations as a flutist, teacher, Teaching Artist, and administrator, a few that you actually started yourself! Can you speak about the other projects/ensembles/organizations you are involved with outside of Project 440?

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This is generally when people start to get that glazed-over look in their eyes, but I’ll try! I am the flutist for two chamber ensembles -- Inscape Chamber Orchestra in the DC area, and NakedEye Ensemble in Lancaster. I run a chamber music and visual art festival in Vermont (this summer marks its 8th season!) called the Pikes Falls Chamber Music Festival. Last fall, I founded the Ellipses Ensemble in Philadelphia, which is a chamber music group that ties in documentary storytelling in order to promote mental health awareness.

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Then, I teach flute lessons through the Philly Orchestra Fellowship Program and the Primavera Foundation, as well as privately. I’m also faculty at Kutztown University, where I’m the flute teacher for a wonderful studio of young flutists, as well as leading Flute Choir, and teaching a couple of classes -- Rhythm and Movement, and The Professional Classical Musician, a leadership/entrepreneurship class that is based on Project 440’s Doing Good curriculum. I also freelance in the Philadelphia area, playing with area ensembles when called upon. I think that about covers the scope of my career currently… it’s a lot of different avenues of musicianship, but that’s what makes each day interesting; overall, I really try to make sure that I feel invested in what I’m doing -- if I have love and appreciation for the organization or program, then I’m thrilled to put in the work.

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Q: If you could give any advice to your high school self with regards to college applications and career choices, what would it be?
It has taken me way too long to understand my strengths and be willing to run with them. We all have our role models and mentors, and mine have been wonderful. I only wish I had been able to recognize earlier that my own path is also valid and valuable, instead of feeling unworthy because I wasn’t doing what I thought I needed to do. I wrote this Teaching Artist Statement a number of years ago; I think it applies here…
Music careers, in our current 21st-century world, are difficult. We have to learn that they won’t necessarily take on the form as that of our role models, our idols, our classical music rock stars. That can be hard to accept. But once you do, once you realize that you really can make your own opportunities, the musical world is large and bright. You can create situations that truly fit who you are, personally and musically; you can shape your career and teaching to be exactly what it needs to be. Because, no matter what the model, our world will always need music. We’ve evolved as musical beings, and that’s not going to go away. If anything, humanity is starving for more; it’s up to us to put it out there.”

YAC's "Young Person's Night at the Orchestra" Welcomes Record Number of Youth

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Project 440's Youth Advisory Council (YAC), in collaboration with the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, filled the room with over 50 youth from 25 different schools in the Philadelphia area at their second pre-concert mixer event for high school students interested in classical music. 

15 Philadelphia Orchestra musicians stopped by to mingle with the students over sweets and beverages, half of whom had never attended a Philadelphia Orchestra Concert before. 

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The soloist for the evening, Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Viola C.J. Chang, also made an appearance to talk to students. We are blown away by YAC's reach and ability to engage peers who may not otherwise attend a concert. Keep up the great work!

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