Non-profit brings music education to Bronx schools

Fourth grade students at P.S. 76 in Allerton put on the play Go West! on Wednesday, May 28, thanks to the school’s ongoing partnership with Education Through Music.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

One non-profit is bringing music to students ears.

Education Through Music partners with city schools to bring music education back in to the classroom, with 19 of the 27 elementary and middle schools they serve in the Bronx.

Allerton native and program director Katherine Damkohler said the goal of the organization is to motivate children through music education and to help them become better learners.

Education Through Music provides partner schools with quality music instructors who receive ongoing professional development, with the benefits, Damkohler said, going beyond children knowing how to read music or play an instrument

“Music becomes a great catalyst for children to want to be great learners,” she said. “Great music education can unlock a lot of potential for students.”

Damkohler emphasizes that Education Through Music provides music education to every single student in its partner school, not just those who are talented or motivated.

The program also is designed for long-term partnership with schools, she added, with the goal being for partner schools to hire Education Through Music teachers and bring them on to their staff. If and when that happens, the schools continue to receive support from Education Through Music.

Rachel Donnelly, principal at partner school P.S. 121 in Allerton, said that music education can give students some much needed confidence.

“It gives them an opportunity to succeed in ways that are not purely academic,” she said. “Sometimes the children who struggle the most in academics succeed the most in music.”

The students have fun in music class and it makes them want to come to school, Donnelly said, plus learning music makes the students better learners overall.

“It’s brain exercise,” she said. “It’s good for them.”

Louise Sedotto, principal at P.S. 76 in Allerton, said that she’s seen the focus kids have while learning music carry over into the classroom. Music also develops math skills like fractions with notes and recognition of patterns, said Sedotto.

She said one benefit of the partnership has been increased parent involvement because of music and theater performances, while another is an increased sense of responsibility for students who carry instruments and practice music for the band program in 5th grade.

The band program has been involved in joint Education Through Music events, and Sedotto said those motivate the students as well.

“They care about their school because they’re part of something bigger,” she said.

Education Through Music serves 15,000 children, said Damkohler, and has many passionate supporters across the city.

One such supporter is vocalist Beverly Taki, whose June 6 concert with O Sole Trio at Carnegie Hall will benefit Education Through Music. Details about the concert can be found at and more information about Education Through Music can be found at

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at

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