learn Winner / 2014

HEAR LA amps up music education and outreach to create opportunity for LA kids

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Citizens of the World Charter Schools, Los Angeles

HEAR LA inspires LA children to create their own voice through music by collaborating with students from CWC Mar Vista and around the world.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

HEAR LA inspires LA children to create their own voice through music by collaborating with students from CWC Mar Vista and around the world.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

It’s 10am at Citizens of the World Mar Vista Elementary School (CWC MV) and a group of first graders in their HEAR LA hub study music and are inspired. They create their own unique piece….

Via the network they are joined with a fourth grader from Silverlake…

that features a solo from a violinist in Iraq….

that’s being produced by a brother/sister team who live in a homeless shelter in New York City.

HEAR LA offers music to students in-class, afterschool and free weekend instruction, targeting low-income children. Students will simultaneously learn about music and different cultures as they create, record, and collaborate with students at other schools and youth centers throughout the city, the country, and the world.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Citizens of the World Charter School Mar Vista purposely reflects ethnic, racial, linguistic and socioeconomic diversity. CWC believes that children who have had experience of interacting with and learning from students who are different from themselves in some way will be better able to function effectively in 2050 and will view their neighborhood, city and world in a more informed, skillful and community-minded light. HEAR LA is a great example of our program in action and it could serve as a model for learning today and in the future.

CWC MV is partnering with HearMe, a non-profit organization. HearMe’s mission is to develop a powerful international community connecting young people, giving preference to disadvantaged youth, through music creation, recording and production.

This musical program transcends traditional classrooms. Students not only learn to play, but to express themselves in new and creative ways as they are inspired through their collaboration with other Los Angeles and global students.

HEAR LA will share the power of music in four ways:

  1. By 2015, CWC MV 336 students will receive music instruction twice weekly in class instruction.

  2. CWC MV will be able to offer after-school enrichment classes such as a concert wind instrument band or songwriting.

  3. A key part of HEAR LA is opening Saturday classes to any preschool or elementary age student in Los Angeles who qualifies for free or reduced lunch. CWC MV, in partnership with HEARME, already has promotional materials and an outreach plan to ensure awareness of this program. The students in the weekend program will experience a weekly six-hour session, which includes a healthy, free snack and lunch.

  4. CWC MV will offer community “jam” sessions in various parts of LA in order to inspire similar programs across the city and increase our collaborative network.

CWC has already located highly qualified staff for the Hear LA program. HearMe will provide these instructors with technical training needed to set up and operate the network collaboration portion of the music program. We also have a detailed budget identifying all the necessary instruments and equipment for the HearMe Music Program and have made arrangements for preferred pricing for that equipment.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

There are numerous, well known benefits of music instruction to education, including higher graduation rates, increased proficiency in reading and mathematics abilities, and better test scores. However, public schools today struggle with dwindling resources. Musical instruction often falls by the wayside. HEAR LA provides its students with a vibrant music program and uses that program as a platform to renew interest in music instruction that will reverberate throughout Los Angeles.

Implementation of CWC MV’s HEAR LA program today would result in immediate direct benefits to hundreds of students participating in the weekday and weekend HEAR LA program annually. These students would benefit from immediate exposure to quality music instruction that, in addition to boosting creativity and self-expression, will also increase the likelihood of successful graduation, reading and math achievement and higher test scores.

Additionally, we expect that in year one, the HEAR LA program will improve learning throughout Los Angeles by inspiring other schools and youth centers to develop similar programs and to participate in the HEAR ME network of youth-based collaborative music. When HEAR LA opens it will be one of at least six global Hub locations. By 2017, HearMe plans to expand to 125 locations across the world.

By 2050, CWC MV expects that its in-class model will continue as CWC itself grows. We also anticipate using former HEAR LA students as mentors to current students. CWC MV further expects that the available network of musical collaboration partners will have expanded exponentially through the “ripple effect.” By 2050, we hope for hundreds of participating schools/youth centers and network collaborators throughout Los Angeles and across the globe.

By 2050, the individuals who benefited from HEAR LA (whether as direct participants or indirectly as students of programs inspired by HEAR LA) will have become our city’s taxpayers, voters, and decision-makers. By that time, we would expect these Angelinos will be more likely to have graduated from high school, achieved proficiency in reading and math, and scored higher on standardized tests than students without access to music programs. Additionally, we would expect that the Angelinos who participated in HEAR LA would have a higher degree of social connectedness, which as the LA2050 report recognizes, “is [itself] tied to educational attainment.”

Whom will your project benefit?

HEAR LA will directly and immediately benefit several groups in Los Angeles. First, each of CWC MV’s 240 students will receive HEAR LA music instruction through its in-school and after-school programs. This number will increase annually, as CWC MV itself grows from a K-3 to a K-5 program. CWC MV plans to extend its charter to include a middle school as well.

CWC MV, is a member of a nation-wide network of high-achieving, community-based public schools that currently serves the culturally diverse populations of Mar Vista and nearby Westside neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are 51% Caucasian, 26% Latino, 7% Asian, 14% African-American, and 2% other.

CWC MV will act as a pilot program for the other Los Angeles based CWC schools located in Hollywood and Silver Lake, effectively tripling the initial impact of the program, through expansion of the in-class and after-school instruction.

CWC MV’s HEAR LA program also will benefit an additional 72-144 low-income preschool and elementary school aged children annually through its weekend program in partnership with HearMe. These children are unlikely to benefit from a music instruction program without HEAR LA.

We anticipate that the benefits of its HEAR LA Program also will echo throughout Los Angeles through the traveling demonstration or community “jam” session component of the Program. This will, in turn, expand the network of participants in other schools or youth centers throughout the city. Indeed, because HEAR LA is not limited by physical location, the potential reach of its impact is limitless.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

A key partner in the HEAR LA Program will be HearMe. http://www.hearmehub.org

HearMe is a critical partner to HEAR LA success. HearMe already has developed a curriculum and software for virtual music collaboration. Through this partnership, HearMe will provide its curriculum and technical training to CWC MV’s HEAR LA instructors. Additionally, HearMe will help funding for HEAR LA’s second and third year of weekend instruction for low-income students. Fundraising from both CWC MV and HearMe will supplement future years. We plan to expand it to the other CWC schools and hopefully other public LA schools. CWC MV and HearMe are excited to begin their collaboration and are in process of formalizing their agreement.

CWC MV will also collaborate with various professionals in the music industry, who will lend their music-making and recording expertise to the success of this project. These professionals include composers and professional musicians

HearMe has created an International Music Creation Network. This is a way for the various HearMe Hubs to connect through the web. HEAR LA would be one of the first hubs. As forerunners, our students would be learning cutting edge technology. As of now that connection is via SoundCloud, which enables sites to collaborate in virtual time. Every day there are new developments that HearMe follows and it looks like shortly, students will be able to collaborate in real time.

3 crucial factors to making HEAR LA work are the International Music Creation Network, students from diverse backgrounds and their imaginations.

HEAR LA gives students hands on experience with various software and music applications but also teaches them about teamwork, handling critiques and turning criticism into a positive. Every student will have the chance to be a leader and also to be a follower. By being a part of a global network, students will realize how big and how small the world is. They will get the chance to forge friendships across the global and bring new awareness to what is happening in those areas. HearMe plans to reach out to war torn countries and bring hope to children across the globe. Our LA students could be companions in peace and global unity and understanding.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs
  • HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math
  • Academic Performance Index scores
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle school (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Ample research shows a clear relationship between music instruction and graduation rates, improved test scores, and increased success in mathematics and reading. For example, the Harris Interactive poll of high school principals (Spring 2006) found that schools with music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than do those without programs (90.2% as compared to 72.9%). That same study determined that schools with music programs have significantly higher attendance rates than those without programs (93.3% as compared to 84.9%). Other studies, such as those noted in Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis’s well-known book Pourquoi Mozart, have also shown a direct relationship music education and increased success in math and reading.

By engaging with organizations that also serve low-income communities and students, HEAR LA can help create a network of opportunity for children. Low-income families are often not aware of every opportunity available to them. By connecting families and children with several organizations, participation in early education programs via partnering organizations will likely increase. Connectedness between the participating families can also create a tighter sense of community and support. Peer pressure is a powerful thing and if we can create a positive environment where learning and excelling in non-traditional ways is valued, the confidence that students acquire can carry them through difficult transitions.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

CWC MV will evaluate the project in three ways:

  1. We will do an assessment of subject area proficiency and growth including music, math, reading, technology and social emotional skills.

CWC MV will evaluate the success of the direct instruction component of the HEAR LA Program. We will form a baseline of engagement and proficiency in each area to compare against at the conclusion of the program’s first year.

We will also utilize data from years where the program has not been implemented to compare proficiency and growth rates with the program against proficiency and growth rates without the program. We predict that Math, Reading, Musical and social emotional skills will have a growth rate of 40%

  1. We will conduct satisfaction surveys with parents of HEAR LA students to obtain anecdotal observations of growth of confidence in musical ability, comfort with technology, and math and reading skills in their children. We expect parents will be at least 90% very satisfied with the program and 90% report significant or very significant growth (as observed by them) in math, reading, comfort with technology, musical ability, or social emotional skill.

Participating students will self-report, via surveys, their current opportunities for musical instruction, proclivity for math and reading, current self-perception of their musical abilities, and current knowledge of particular cultures with which we will be interacting, both within LA and globally. Surveys will be conducted at the beginning and end of the program. For example, we expect a proclivity for math and reading to have a 40% increase.

  1. In-class, after school, weekend participation, and community jam sessions will be critical to the success and growth of the program. We will track both in-school and community participation rates based on enrollment, population and socio-economic data. We plan to do at least 4 jam sessions with 40 children per session.

CWC MV will identify outreach partners and measure level of interest, participation, and adoption of the program through these sources. Participant and organization engagement will be evaluated via participation rates and surveys.

Longer term, we will also assess continuity between organizations who serve low-income children. By tracking the movement of students through community programs, we can be a part of ensuring low-income children know about and can take advantage of other opportunities throughout the city.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The LA Times reported (Jan 7, 2013), 1 in 5 of California children live in poverty. Ann O’Leary stated in that article “Our ability to thrive as the world’s ninth largest economy depends on having an educated, healthy and stable next generation of workers.” HEAR LA reaches out to groups of disadvantaged youth by teaching them to use iPad based recording studios, instruments, music education software, and connecting them to a larger International Music Network. HEAR LA will give students the vocabulary and the confidence to become active participants in the music industry, in Los Angeles and in the world. HEAR LA will keep not only students but also Los Angeles relevant in a global world. Funding from LA 2050 will position children of Los Angeles to be global leaders.

CWC MV’s HEAR LA Music Program allows children in Los Angeles to embrace music as a way to express themselves and share that expression with others outside their immediate communities. It is often easy in a big city for children to feel small and think their voice doesn’t matter. HEAR LA proves to them that not only does their voice matter, but people all over the world care what they have to say. By empowering our city’s children, we will be inspiring them to learn more, to try more and to engage in the world around them. Music instruction can spur creativity and confidence in the classroom, while also supporting advancement in mathematics and language arts, improving test scores and increasing the likelihood of graduation.

By connecting in a meaningful way and using the universal language of music, our children will learn more about other cultures, other religions, other ways of life and other perspectives. Imagine in 2050, formerly disadvantaged youth are the doers and leaders not only in the music industry but leaders of the world. Los Angeles can become a global center because we started today, with 350 pre- and elementary school aged kids, and taught them music appreciation, songwriting, editing, production, and instrument instruction while virtually collaborating throughout our city and the world.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

CWC MV and HearMe are ready to implement the HEAR LA program the moment funding is in place. CWC simply needs to augment its existing music education and after school programs to include HEAR LA. CWC has a lead teacher, Hayley Roberts; ready to oversee the HEAR LA program. Ms. Roberts has a passion for music and worked as a curriculum writer for Music and Geography for the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC), which is taught internationally in 40+ countries.

HearMe stands ready to supply the necessary technology training and assist with equipment requisition. HearMe has an existing, replicable and easily deployed model for instruction and collaboration.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The primary barrier to the success of HEAR LA is initial funding. CWC MV has funding in place to ensure the continuation of the HEAR LA program past its inaugural year, but we need seed money to purchase the necessary equipment and supplemental training needed to launch HEAR LA.

Our second greatest challenge lies in ensuring the HEAR LA Program reaches a meaningful number of low-income students. This is a key component of the HEAR LA Program. In order to ensure low-income participation, CWC MV, in collaboration with HearMe, formulated the cost-free weekend component of the HEAR LA music program, which will exclusively serve students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

We also plan to facilitate low-income participation by including free lunch and snacks and by consolidating classes to a single weekend day to minimize transportation burdens. CWC MV has an outreach plan in place to publicize the availability of this program to low-income families throughout West Los Angeles.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach