Wharton Music Center (WMC) has been selected as a recipient of Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's Jersey Give-Back Guide for WMC's Paterson Music Project based in Paterson, New Jersey. As a non-profit charitable organization, Wharton Music Center is committed to bringing music education to children who do not have access because of economic and social disadvantages. Paterson Music Project, an El Sistema-inspired music program, uses music as a vehicle for social change by empowering and inspiring young children through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing.

During the holiday season, Dodge’s Give-Back Guide encourages New Jersey residents to contribute to certain nonprofit organizations selected by the Dodge Foundation in recognition of their work to make a better New Jersey. Contributions can be made online to benefit Wharton Music Center’s Paterson Music Project by visiting http://jerseygivebackguide.org/#el_sistema.

Elementary school students of Community Charter School of Paterson who participate in Paterson Music Project (PMP) meet three days a week for two hours of music education including playing together in the PMP string orchestra. Wharton Music Center initiated Paterson Music Project last January for 30 second grade students. Since then the program has expanded to 32 weeks and grown to include 55 students. The El Sistema music immersion program under the direction of Jeffrey Grogan, Artistic Director of New Jersey Youth Symphony, teaches students how to play an instrument: violin, viola, or cello; music fundamentals such as rhythm and musical notation; singing; music appreciation; and music history.

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Joining Artistic Director Grogan are teachers Elizabeth Moulthrop, violinist and Program Coordinator; Shanna Lin, violist; Erika Tesi, violinist; and Terrence Thornhill, cellist. All teachers have music degrees and performance and teaching experience. One of the highlights of last year’s program was the performance of the Paterson Music Project students with New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) student musicians at Union County Performing Arts Center. NJYS students also mentor PMP students by working with them on their technique and musicality.

Wharton Music Center expects to continue to expand the program to be able to offer all grade levels at Community Charter School of Paterson an opportunity to participate in Paterson Music Project and become part of the school’s string orchestra. Because Paterson Music Project is completely dependent on the generosity of foundations and individual donors, expansion of the program necessitates tapping into more donors who value music and want to ensure that all children have access to the arts.

Keeping the arts alive is as much about engendering community-based programs like Paterson Music Project as it is about contributing to the great cultural institutions of New Jersey. All contributions are welcome: http://jerseygivebackguide.org/#el_sistema.

Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Ave. in Berkeley Heights, provides music, theater, and dance instruction, educational programs, and performances for children, teens, and adults. In addition to instruction in all instruments and voice, WMC offers classes in musical theatre, dance, drama, choral music, vocal music, music theory, audio recording, early childhood music, and music for children with special needs. Offering a range of musical genres including classical, rock, jazz, and blues, WMC is one of New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts centers serving students in Union, Morris, Essex, Somerset, and other surrounding counties.

New Jersey Youth Symphony, the orchestral and ensemble division of Wharton Music Center (WMC), offers music education for grades 3 through 12. NJYS is located at 570 Central Ave. in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has ten orchestras and ensembles for which auditions are held annually. NJYS’s premiere orchestra, Youth Symphony, has performed in internationally-renowned concert halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Musikverein in Vienna.

The mission of Wharton Music Center, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is to advance excellence and education in the performing arts. For more information, visit www.NJYS.org or www.WhartonMusicCenter.org