Project 440 Team

Welcoming Mason to the Project 440 Team!

Mason is an intern from the Bloomberg Arts Internship Program and will be spending the next 7 weeks working with Project 440!

Mason is an intern from the Bloomberg Arts Internship Program and will be spending the next 7 weeks working with Project 440!

Q: How did you find out about this internship?

A: During the school year, my art teacher brought me a flyer for the Bloomberg Arts Internship and I signed up that very night. When I was assigned to Project 440, I did a little digging through the website to learn more about the organization. Needless to say, I was very excited to start working here.

Q: What is your relationship with music? What does music mean to you?

A: Music has always been a part of my life. I started singing straight out of the womb and I haven’t stopped since. I play guitar and bass and started a band called Mystic Prize with my friend Willem about a year ago. Since then, we’ve released a few singles, an EP, and full length album and we are still working hard at creating more. I think I get my musical inclination from my dad, who played trombone for the better half of his adolescence.

Music, to me, is the ultimate form of self-expression. Anyone can make music. It has so many different forms, evokes many different emotions, and can be very tangible. If you have something to say, an instrument can give you the words to say it. There are so many messages that can be expressed universally through a simple instrumental, just the thought of it is empowering. Music can break language barriers. Whenever I am feeling something strongly but can’t find the words, I pick up my guitar and sing whatever falls out of my mouth. It doesn’t even feel like I’m thinking, I’m just doing. It is liberating. They don’t have to be the right words, but they are the truth, and having that honesty with myself is something magical that I only find through music.

Q: Describe yourself in 3 words.

A: Oof, this is difficult, I have so many words. I guess I’d say that I am goofy, creative, and friendly (and for my boss, super hardworking!).

Q: Do you actually like long walks on the beach?

A: Eh. I’d prefer a nice hike in the woods followed by a cooling swim in a lake!

Q: What do you hope to gain from interning at Project 440?

A: I hope the professional environment will improve my self-motivation and organization. There are a lot of things to get done throughout the work day, and taking them one step at a time in an organized manner is very important. Just within my first week here, I can already feel myself getting better with time management and organization. Every task I complete feels like I am contributing to something bigger than myself, which definitely makes me feel more motivated to do the work.

 

Teaching Artist Spotlight: Emily Cooley

Meet Emily Cooley, a local composer and Teaching Artist (TA) for Instruments for Success! Read about how she got involved with Project 440 and what she has taken away from being a TA.

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

I first heard about Project 440 when I was a student at Curtis. I think the organization has a very unique role in Philly’s music scene - I love that Project 440 builds connections between young musicians and the larger community. 

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

I like hearing about students’ interests and goals. There are so many different paths our students want to explore, both in college and beyond. It’s inspiring to meet students who have very specific goals, but I also relate to those who aren’t quite sure what they want to do, because that was me in high school.


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

I’m a freelance composer, and I teach a lot of private composition and piano students in the Philly area. I also help run a concert series in New York called Kettle Corn New Music. 

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Q: You are a working professional, but is there anything that you learned while being a TA for Instruments for Success?   

Where you go to college doesn’t determine your future success! I don’t think I ever got that message when I was in high school.

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

Probably to leave my options open and always take time to reflect on both my past choices and potential future interests. That’s something I’m trying to do now as well.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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Introducing the Youth Advisory Council's new members!

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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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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.  

 

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