Project 440 Projects

East Falls Now - Using Music to Train Entrepreneurs


by John T. Gillespie

Just as Chopin captivated 19th Century Paris salons with his virtuosity on the piano, so the young musicians of Project 440 captured the hearts and minds of Henry and Kathy Donner’s guests with Beethoven’s obeo trio.

But Beethoven, inspiring and critically performed as he was, was not the focus of a Sunday afternoon in April in the Donners’ living room on Apologen Rd. Music, the discipline with the power to inspire and train men and women for productive lives, was.

Project 440 stands for 440 Hz, or middle A on the musical scale, the note musicians use to tune their instruments. In this case it could also stand for music’s importance in life.

Joseph Conyers, bass for the Philadelphia Orchestra and founder and executive director of Project 440, says the program treats music as a means, not an end, to a successful life. “Project 440,” he says, “fosters musicians’ passion and helps them build skills to amplify their future success.”

With students drawn from the city’s leading public high schools—Masterman, Centra, Girard, Northeast High, the High School for the Create and Performing Arts, Benjamin Rush and the All City Orchestra—the project has a ready pooled potential members.

The project offers two after-school options. Doing Good teaches young people the ins and outs of social entrepreneurship, leaderships, and community service. Instruments for Success focuses on college and career preparedness—all through the lens of music.


Claire, a Project 440 student, said that “Participating in Project 440’s Doing Good allows me to do just that: good. Being part of this organization also has allowed me to learn new entrepreneurship skills and meet new people with a similar goal. The things I was able to learn in this class will stick with me throughout my future endeavors.”

The Donners have become cultural mavens in the neighborhood. They hosted a recent musicale at Germantown Friends School and invited City Councilman and realtor Allan Domb to their home for a political tutorial on taxes and city government.

Henry Donner is a member of the board of Project 440 and a fervent admirer of the organization and its founder.

“Anyone who has met the Orchestra’s Joseph Conyers recognizes he is a force of nature—bright, articulate, thoughtful, engaging, an accomplished classical musician with impactful social purpose realized in a non-for-profit organization he created.

“Project 440, through its two flagship programs, Doing Good and Instruments for Success, teaches high school students from across Philadelphia about social entrepreneurship, community service, and college and career preparedness—all through the lens of music.”

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Transcribed from East Falls Now, John T. Gillespie.


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

Joseph conducting (2).jpg

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.


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


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. 


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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Introducing the Youth Advisory Council's new members!


We are very happy to present the new Youth Advisory Council (YAC) members! YAC is a program that uses peer to peer influence to ensure student voices are included in the development of our programs and encourage students to further develop their leadership skills.

YAC includes alumni of Project 440 programs, the School District of Philadelphia, and other young leaders from throughout the region with a passion for music education. This group meets monthly and receives training aimed at developing their leadership skills.

Dotan Yarden, President of YAC, explained “We bring in professionals to present about topics such as event planning, budget, advocacy, and board governance. Many of these skills will benefit us in the years to come as we take on various roles as artists and entrepreneurs.”

The addition of YAC helps us to connect with new students and continue directly working with alumni of our previous programs. By teaching and working together with these students, we can help them continue to grow into their full potential. Yarden added “Real-time student feedback enables Project 440 to continuously evolve to best serve the needs of its students.” By listening and working with these young leaders, we will be able to continue growing and offering the best opportunities, skills and tools that current and future students need to succeed.

Click here for a list of all the new members of the Youth Advisory Council!


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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


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