Kidznotes changes the life trajectory of underserved K-12 students through orchestral training.

Our program is based on the El Sistema model of youth orchestras, which started in Venezuela and has now spread worldwide. We provide 10 hours of music instruction a week free of charge to all participants. Currently our students range in grades from K-7th.

Our Vision

Our vision is to be a catalyst for change that uses music to build a thriving network of children, families and partners in which the passion for music unleashes the human potential to transform lives and communities. The foundation of our vision is our commitment to embrace and value diversity, excellence and collaboration in our daily lives.

Why Music?

Studies repeatedly find that music training is positively associated with more complex brain development, higher school achievement (e.g., math, reading, SAT scores, graduation rates, etc.) and a host of other gauges of long-term social, economic and emotional well-being. Research also suggests that the earlier the introduction to music, the greater the impact or benefit. Kidznotes will serve students K-12, utilizing community-based facilities to provide 10 hours of intensive instruction a week to children in years crucial to their brain and behavioral development.

Furthermore, the opportunity for educational enrichment in a safe and nurturing environment promises greater readiness for school among young children in low-income communities. Music is one way to counter some of the disadvantages that accrue due to a lack of economic advantage, helping develop a sense of community and empowerment. For instance, frequent performances of small ensembles and combined orchestral groups help develop pride and self-confidence in our students.

Through independent evaluation, it’s been determined that Kidznotes students are demonstrating positive development across a variety of indicators, including musical proficiency, academic performance and personal/social growth. In qualifying Kidznotes’ impact on school success when compared to their peers, data indicates that students participating in Kidznotes:

  • Attend school more often;
  • Start from behind in terms of school-readiness for the 3rd or 4th grade; however, after 1-2 years of Kidznotes, score at or on-par when compared to state mean scores on end of grade tests for their schools and grades;
  • Are more frequently identified as “A” or “B” students in the classroom;
  • Are more willing to ask for help when they need it;
  • Are more frequently identified as having self-determination and persistence

These initial findings are based on early data. An immediate next step is to replicate data collection during the 2013-14 school year in Durham and to add data from new students in Wake County, expanding the sample size used in future analyses.

KZSC_038Why East Durham and Southeast Raleigh?

Durham and Southeast Raleigh confront the unfortunate, poverty-based reality of neighborhoods in which children’s futures are tragically compromised even before they arrive at the schoolhouse door. As extensive research has shown, children from low-income communities often lack the basic social, emotional and intellectual skills to start kindergarten on an equal footing with their more affluent peers. By the third grade, so many have been unable to master basic reading and math skills that their fortunes seem predetermined.

Through immersion in ensembles and orchestras, children develop the SEARCH Institute’s identified social skills that are critical for success in school and adulthood, including accountability, mutual respect, teamwork, intrinsic motivation, critical listening, discipline, focus and attention. By fostering these skills, Kidznotes creates a caring school climate and neighborhood by inviting children to serve others while setting high expectations and engaging creative activities with a sense of purpose.

Kidznotes partners with 8 Title -1 elementary schools where the racial composition of students is approximately 50.67% African American, 34.74% Hispanic and 14.59% Other—representing a diversity not traditional to classical music and orchestras.

As a targeted initiative in changing the face of poverty in Durham and in Raleigh, all enrolled Kidznotes students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Kidznotes (and its El Sistema model) emphasizes early-childhood intervention, consistent and continuing services through a conveyor belt of programs for every child and intensity of engagement for the child and family. As we grow, Kidznotes is committed to serving Durham and Raleigh’s students from pre-kindergarten through high-school.

Read the Kidznotes story to learn how we landed in Durham and Raleigh on the Our History page.