With the close of the 22-23 school year, Chops is thrilled to report not only the successful conclusion of two groundbreaking pilot drumline programs in St. Paul, but the official partnership with St. Paul Public Schools for the long term development and expansion of programing, reaching the widest audience of St. Paul youth in the organization’s history.
“We knew that there were challenges with equal opportunities available to St. Paul youth” said Michael Finney, Program Developer with Chops, “But the hunger and need for real, formative experiences like this is so much more than we could have imagined. We didn’t expect impact like this - which is amazing.” Finney described the surprising extent to which the St. Paul community supported the pilot programs from day one, citing a myriad of local sponsors and volunteers.
In 2022, Chops began coordination with the after school program ‘Flipside’ at Hidden River Middle School to lay the groundwork for the development of a much different, and much needed, approach to marching percussion. In February of 2023, the Hidden River Drumline program was launched to pilot this new approach; an academic approach to the drumline experience specifically aimed at closing achievement gaps and creating equal opportunities. Due to overwhelming demand, a second pilot was started at Global Arts Middle as well.
“I had the unique opportunity to teach music in St. Paul a few years back while also teaching music in the suburbs. That’s where this project was born. Differences in music education is one thing, but what we are concerned about is formative experience. Where do these students get the opportunity to figure themselves out? To feel connected with their community?”
The SPPS pilot programs began their session with a goal of 75% of students demonstrating parity with in school music students their age by the conclusion of the program. With 6 total live performances and a knock out youth arts showcase in April, Chops is proud to report the pilot programs exceed that goal with 81% of students achieving.
Looking forward to school year 2023-24, Chops is ready to take their partnership with St. Paul Public Schools to the next level with confirmed program launches at Highland Park Middle and Murray Middle Schools in addition to continued long term development of the two pilot programs.
“We don’t want to be another organization that comes in for a while and takes everything with them when they leave. I live here. I see it. We want to help St. Paul people build their own community and have it last.”
With a strong goal for sustainability in these programs, Chops is calling Minnesota to join us in starting a movement of support. Visit the new fundraising campaign here to support our work: https://www.chopsinc.org/purple-shades
Want to learn more about the SPPS partnership?
Visit our page here: https://www.chopsinc.org/sppsdrumlines
Chops, Inc. is a nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a mission to improve lives through music education and performing arts. We meet our mission with professional bands and artist-in-residence programs, and by offering fiscal sponsorship and support to community-based performing arts groups like All City Music and Dance With Purpose. To learn more and get involved, please visitwww.chopsinc.org.