Jumpstart Young Musicians Program Receives Grant from California Arts Council

Huei-Yuan Pan Conducts the Jumpstart Band at the Natural History Museum.

They're so impressionable and everything is new to them. Huei-Yuan Pan, Jumpstart Director

With new support from the California Arts Council’s Artists in Schools grant program, the Jumpstart Young Musicians Program will provide 115 middle school students from public schools in Los Angeles with the highest caliber of instrumental music training. Throughout the course of the school year, students will receive free, in-depth instruction from our esteemed faculty and accomplished teaching artists, including full band and sectional rehearsals, and private lessons. A CAC grant will fund weekly private lessons for all students.

Read on to learn more about the Jumpstart program.

This story from our archives was originally posted on May 1, 2015.

“They’re so impressionable and everything is new to them,” said Huei-Yuan Pan of the students in this year’s Jumpstart program, who will give their year-end recital on Saturday, May 9, at 7 pm in Zipper Hall. “Any moment could be an ‘a-ha’ moment.”

The Jumpstart Young Musicians Program serves as an academic year continuation of the Colburn School’s Summer Encounter program, in which 60 fifth and sixth grade students from 15 Los Angeles Unified School District partner schools take day-long classes in music, dance, and drama on the Colburn School campus in downtown Los Angeles. Graduates of Summer Encounter receive an invitation to join the Jumpstart program if they want to continue their music studies on campus, and the Colburn School provides them with instruments, small group lessons, and a large ensemble experience for the now 70 participating students.

Mr. Pan has served as Director of Jumpstart since it began two years ago, when the Colburn School’s Drs. Robert Duke and Nathaniel Zeisler approached him with the idea of starting a program for these passionate, energetic, and curious elementary school students. “It was clear we were like-minded, passionate about teaching and learning music,” Mr. Pan said. “It was just a matter of building a model that fit the Colburn School and our pre-existing programs.”

His goals for the students are simple: to foster the habits of thought and behavior consistent with mature musicians, right from the beginning. This means teaching the students to play with a beautiful tone, in tune, and with the best musical practices as modeled by the program’s teaching artists. “Often times, people will describe novice musicians as being ‘fantastic for a group of kids,’ but we want them to be fantastic, period,” Mr. Pan said.

The upcoming recital will demonstrate their exceptional skills. Mr. Pan strives to choose music that pushes the students to stretch and grow as musicians while keeping what’s asked of them within their grasp. He finds that including students in the music selection process is an important part of their education. “We listen to recordings of the pieces together, and students respond to short written prompts,” he explained. “It’s amazing how their approach to learning music changes when they have a say in the selection process. You know you’ve got them hooked when they write, ‘I like this piece because it sounds cool!'” First year students will perform works by Sweeney, Daehn, and Smith, while second year students will perform Grundman, Ticheli, and Markowski.

“Teaching the Jumpstart Young Musicians Program students is easily a highlight for me each week,” Mr. Pan said. “Between the staff, faculty, and conservatory students, it takes a village to provide them with this kind of experience. But, I never get tired of watching them light up when they finally ‘get it’ and seeing them forge new friendships with students from other schools is a special thing – it makes all the blood, sweat, and tears worth it.”