Students bring the noise to the South Side

An RSO partners 32 U of C students with over 60 local elementary and high school students to fill a gap in music education opportunities.

By Patrick Fitz

The lack of arts education in the neighborhoods surrounding the University struck a chord with fourth-year Noah Moskowitz.

“There is a dearth of music education opportunities on the South Side,” he said.

Responding to that gap in opportunities, Moskowitz co-founded the South Side Free Music Program (SSFMP) a year and a half ago. The program partners 32 U of C students with over 60 local elementary and high school students at three different locations: K.L.E.O Community Family Life Center near Washington Park, Sexton Elementary School in Woodlawn, and Goodspeed Hall on campus.

Unlike the case with many non-profits, funding is usually not an issue with the SSFMP, Moskowitz said. The organization only requires minimal funding since volunteers are unpaid and most of the instruments are already available. When necessary, the program acquires funds on a quarterly basis and works with K.L.E.O, the Washington Park Consortium, and the University.

“The University is a global center of wealth, and [is] literally across the street, people don’t have access to it. The program is a bridge of communication and contact. There’s an immense amount of talent out there,” Moskowitz said.

Moskowitz cited hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, who began making beats on an old tape recorder he bought at a yard sale, as an example of the importance of early music education. With recent funding, the SSFMP is also in the process of launching a new audio production program aimed at older teens.

“Music is analytically intelligent yet deeply emotional and creative. It’s essential for development,” he said.