Giving Tuesday is an initiative that helps us step away from the annual whirlwind of holiday purchases and honor the Thanksgiving season by giving back to those in need. As the organization puts it, Giving Tuesday is “a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company, or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how are you giving.”
Everyone at MakeMusic is passionate about music education. Yes, we’re a company, but being able to connect with music teachers and students around the world helps us be a part of something bigger. This year we’ve found a way to give something back.
For Giving Tuesday, we’ve donated a full SmartMusic classroom implementation package to the Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy in Denver, Colorado. Part of Denver Public Schools, KCAA is an arts magnet school serving a low-income population – a majority of their students are on free and reduced lunch – and these students might not otherwise have the opportunity to work with music technology.
Luke Wachter, the instrumental music teacher at KCAA, describes the school as “unique because we strive to provide a really meaningful, 21st-century arts education to a really under-served population. We are one of the few arts magnet schools in the country that is K-12, focused on socioeconomically underprivileged students, and integrates the arts into all of our core academic subject areas.”
In my conversation with Luke, he discussed how inspiring working with the students at KCAA can be: “I love getting students to understand that they have a voice, and that they can influence their community and their world if they learn how to use that voice effectively. In my class, they learn how to use music to make their voice heard.”
Even when speaking about challenges associated with teaching, Luke was unfailingly upbeat: “What is challenging is meeting the students where they are. That can be finding the right instrument, the right way to explain something, or, especially in my school community, finding them resources they can get anywhere else outside of school.”
Attending a K-12 school means that KCAA students have an unusually consistent music experience, and Luke uses that to his advantage in the classroom. He says, “I have the opportunity to work with students over a long period of time… The most inspiring moment of my teaching career was watching our first class of seniors graduate, and seeing kids I had known since they were in middle school become amazing artists, scholars, and people.”
We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to help support Luke, his students, and the music education community as part of Giving Tuesday and hope that sharing their story inspires you to give something more, too.
In addition to his role as MakeMusic’s social media manager, Ryan Sargent is an active teacher and performer in the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area, and a member of the music faculty at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.