West Michigan Symphony launches after-school string program in partnership with 21st CCLC Impact

“Tune Up” will provide Muskegon Elementary students with free instruments and instruction

Muskegon, MI, September 19, 2022— Beginning this fall, elementary students in Muskegon’s Marquette and Oakview Elementary schools will be given an early start in instrumental music. A new program called “Tune Up” will provide aspiring young musicians with their own string instrument and free group lessons with a qualified teacher. This will mark the debut of a new partnership between West Michigan Symphony, Muskegon Public Schools, and the 21st CCLC Impact after-school program. 

Tune Up will offer multiple hours of instruction per week. Students will receive free use of a musical string instrument, learn to play that instrument, participate in ensemble and sectional lessons, build friendships, and receive academic support. The partnership with 21st CCLC Impact will leverage its safe, supportive environment—including tutoring, snacks, and fellowship—while adding a needed musical element. Tune Up will pilot at Marquette and Oakview Elementary Schools during the 2022/23 academic year. In subsequent years, it will expand into other Elementary schools and beyond.

According to MPS Director of Orchestra Nick Voyt, “Because of the Tune Up program, students will receive several years of instrumental string music instruction while still in Elementary school, which will encourage them to progress more quickly and help them prepare for middle and high school orchestra. The Tune Up program is the first step to offering instrumental string music in our elementary schools and provides an exceptionally valuable opportunity for students where there currently is none.”

Tune Up is supported entirely by corporate, foundation, and individual donors, with more than $600,000 already raised to provide a stable startup fund. Leading support has been provided by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, Fifth Third Bank, Gerber Foundation, Hines Corporation, Howmet Aerospace, Meijer Foundation, and private donors. The contributions made directly to WMS in its recent Play Your Part campaign, are being held by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and will defray program expenses on an as-needed basis.

Tune Up is based on El Sistema, a global orchestra movement founded in Venezuela in 1975 that provides instrumental music education to underserved youth, developing needed life skills and habits. The umbrella organization El Sistema USA lists similar programs throughout the United States—including Kalamazoo and Pontiac. Tune Up will be the first El Sistema program in West Michigan.

Music furnishes important skills—creative thinking, problem-solving, motivation, and collaboration—that boost academic performance. Studies have shown that students enrolled in music outperform their peers in Math, Science and English, obtain elevated GPAs and graduate from high school at higher levels.

An anchor cultural organization headquartered in Muskegon, WMS is a resident performing group at the Frauenthal Center, where its eight-concert season is the most visible part of a larger artistic enterprise of far-reaching community benefit.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts