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Mayor de Blasio & Chancellor Carranza Announce Paul Simon Music Fellows Program

Paul Simon Music Fellows Program


$1 million grant will fund a fellowship with 40 middle and high school music teachers over two years; additional fellows will be selected in subsequent years

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced the launch of the Paul Simon Music Fellows Program for early career music teachers, serving students in grades 6-12. The program partners 20 fellows from across the five boroughs with veteran music teachers for one-on-one mentorship and skills training over the course of a school year. Each school will also receive an 11-week “artist-in-residence,” as well as a guest artist, curated by Simon, who will lead master classes for students. The fellowship launched in September for the 2019-20 school year with a first cohort of 20 middle and high school teachers citywide. Applications for the next cohort of up to 20 fellows will open in Summer 2020, to begin in the Fall of the 2020-21 school year.

In partnership with the Department of Education, the Paul Simon Music Fellows Program was established with a donation of $1 million from Paul Simon to the NYC Department of Education and Fund for Public Schools to invest in music programs, and promote comprehensive musicianship for New York City’s students through advanced teacher training and collaboration with professional musicians. The financial donation is the result of all net proceeds from the final hometown concert of Simon’s 2018 Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour, which culminated in New York’s Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“We want every child to feel the spark that comes from learning something they are passionate about. And so often, it’s taking up an instrument or performing for the first time that helps a young person come into their own,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This program will not only help our students explore music, but also help them succeed in school and life. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want to thank Paul Simon for supporting this critical initiative.”

“School arts programs like the Music Fellows Program, when carefully guided and nurtured by dedicated teachers and gifted musicians, have the capacity to change and enrich students’ lives,” said Paul Simon. “As a graduate of the NYC public school system myself, I look forward to seeing the flowering of musical talent, and hearing what our city’s kids give us, as they take advantage of this new program.”

“Dedicated music teachers have opened so many doors for me, and I’m so excited for our first cohort of fellows, their students, and the incredible opportunities that will be afforded to them through this fellowship program,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Thank you to Paul Simon for helping us further our investment in providing our city’s students with the high-quality arts education they deserve, and ensuring our hallways never sound of silence.”

“Wonderful to see Paul Simon giving back to the public school system that helped to shape him,” said Julie L. Shapiro, Chief Executive Officer of the Fund for Public Schools. “Our new partnership equips teachers to provide more of our City’s students with transformative experiences learning and performing music, ultimately cultivating the talents of the next generation of artists and leaders.”

The Paul Simon Music Fellows Program includes:

  • One-on-one mentorship with veteran music teachers. Fellows are matched with veteran music teacher mentors whose support includes in-person coaching to help strengthen instruction and write curriculum. Fellows are paired with mentors based on both teachers’ area of musical specialization (i.e. band, choir, guitar, modern band, orchestra, etc.) and geographic proximity.
  • Artists-in-residence for ensembles. Fellows and their schools will partner with New York City cultural institutions to receive an 11-week residency during which an artist-in-residence will work side-by-side with the Fellow and student ensembles, supporting teacher skill development and student performance. Cultural institutions will be carefully selected according to the needs and goals expressed by each Fellow and his or her school.
  • Guest artist master classes by Paul Simon-affiliated visiting musicians.Visiting artists will provide three master classes over the school year at each school, tailoring content and instruction to meet the needs of each school community. Guest artists will be skilled, professional musicians curated by Paul Simon, with expertise in a variety of musical traditions and genres.
  • Culminating performance. Fellows and students will incorporate their musical experiences and repertoire from the residency and guest artist master classes into a spring public performance, showcasing students’ musical skill development and achievements.

Mentor teachers were recruited through a rigorous selection process, and all have a demonstrated track record of excellence as teachers and performers. Mentors include the principal conductors of key music programs, including the All-City High School Music Program, Salute to Music Program, and the Summer Arts Institute. Some selected mentors have previously served as mentors for the National Association for Music Education Music Mentoring Pilot.

The Paul Simon Music Fellows program builds on unprecedented investments in arts education under the de Blasio administration, which together with the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives, is forging a pathway to success in college and careers for all students.

Paul Simon Music Fellows Program