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Music makes the world a better place, Gao believes, and can turn lives around. For kids, it can represent opportunity and solace. It gives them an outlet for their creativity and stress and can also help keep them off the streets.
"It helps with math, problem-solving, developing a healthy youth and childhood," Gao said, listing off the benefits of learning to play an instrument.
"We all know that under any economy, underserved kids in big cities, inner cities, can benefit from music. It can help them have a better life."
|Xiang Gao, Producing Artistic Director|
That's why Gao, artistic director for UD's Master Players and a professor of music, has developed a program to help pass along a love of music to some of the state's most disadvantaged children, he said.
It's called Little Masters and was created to provide free private music lessons and instruments to children in low-income communities. It will pilot at Bayard Middle School in downtown Wilmington starting in September.
More than 80 percent of the students there are considered low-income, according to the Department of Education. The school offers a group orchestra class, but many of the students use district-provided instruments, which they must return at the end of the school year and sometimes cannot take home.
"Some parents don't want students to bring the instruments home because they're worried about damage," Gao explained, adding that the price of repairs can often be prohibitive.
Not only that but "the music teachers at Bayard Middle School, like Sheila Hershey, they have limited time," Gao said.
The Little Masters Project will offer free after-school music lessons not only at the middle school itself but on the University of Delaware campus, he said. Select students will receive free instruments, which they will be able to keep and take home to practice upon.
Source: The News Journal