By Brenden Curry
Lisa Wolfe is a music teacher who hopes to continue her mission of bringing music into the lives of Coatesville residents. However, she is in dire need of donations for her program Build-a-Band Music Education. She will be forced to shut it down if it does not receive sustainable donations by the end of the year.
Wolfe is the executive director of Build-A-Band, which is a project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit that empowers artists, arts organizations, and other cultural sector stakeholders by eliminating practical barriers to artistic expression. Build-A-Band has provided music to more than 400 students in the Coatesville Area School District. She teaches a range of students, from ones who are new to the English language to those who are academically gifted. More than 60 percent of her students have special needs or learning differences.
More than 80 percent pay part or nothing at all, and Build-A-Band provides lessons regardless of financial status. Wolfe allows families and groups to take music lessons at a discounted rate.
“I made a commitment that we will not turn anyone away and take in anyone who was interested in learning about music,” Wolfe said.
The foundation of Build-A-Band’s success in Coatesville is Wolfe’s teaching style. She uses the “Differentiated Learning Style” of teaching, which facilitates hands-on learning.
She arranges her music classes by having students participate in the different instrument “music centers.” Wolfe said that her students thrive in her program because they get to try multiple instruments and discover what they are interested in.
Each center allows students to experience hands-on learning of a musical instrument, rather than listening to someone talk about it for 45 minutes in the direct teaching style. For example, a child will experiment with a piano, guitar, and drums. Each student has a “to-do list” of skills to accomplish and learn at each center.
“It allows them to become more empowered and become a self-learner, so they are experiencing music, instead of being told about music,” Wolfe said.
After rotating through the stations, the child will choose which instrument he or she liked the best. The child will continue with the chosen instrument. Wolfe compared it to kids participating in different sports throughout the school year and then picking which sport they will invest their time and talents.
Wolfe’s program will host two free concerts, on Thursday, Dec. 12 and Tuesday, Dec. 17. Both concerts start at 6 PM and all are welcome. Acts will feature families and groups who have become bands and an upcoming Coatesville rap artist, Jireeh Turner, who is auditioning for America’s Got Talent.
“It’s an opportunity for people of all ages to be in positive activities,” she said.
Click here to donate to Build-a-Band Music Education.