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Music Programs in Nashville Reaching More Hispanic Students

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More Hispanic students in Music City are enrolled in music classes than ever before.

According to a report from Nashville-based Music Makes Us, the majority of Hispanic students attending Metro Nashville Public Schools are enrolled in some type of music program at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Since the initiative — a partnership between the mayor’s office, music industry and community leaders — began working to provide high quality music education in schools in 2012, Hispanic participation has grown by 15 percent. English-language learners and low-income students have also become more involved.

The initiative’s overarching goals are access, equity and quality, Music Makes Us Director Laurie Schell said in an email Friday.

“In a diverse urban school district such as Metro Nashville Public Schools with a growing immigrant population and over 120 different languages spoken, it is important to provide access and opportunities for all students to participate in music.”

Music Makes Us programs taken by 48,700 students include mandatory, standards-based music classes in elementary school and electives in middle and high school. In the older grades, courses range from music theory and audio engineering to the study of hip hop, country or jazz. The majority of middle school-aged Latinos and 23 percent of Latino high schoolers are taking the elective courses.

Research has shown kids from low-income families are less likely to take music classes than their more affluent peers. But by making music a part of the school day free of charge and partnering with private philanthropic organizations to provide instruments, equipment and supplies for students who cannot afford them, Music Makes Us has eliminated many barriers for students who might not otherwise reap the benefits of arts education.

Schell said the growth can be credited to the addition of new course offerings, like mariachi, and Latino-owned businesses such as Delgado Guitars and the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for supporting the initiative.