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Some Kind of Spark Documentary
By Jordan Wagner
5/10/2011 10:00:00 AM

Director Ben Niles (director of the fantastic film Note By Note) is producing a new feature length documentary entitled "Some Kind of Spark". The film follows inner city kids through the Music Advancement Program (MAP) at The Juilliard School in New York City.

Independently produced, funded and directed by Plow Productions, the film is an intimate look behind the scenes—from auditions to recitals, at home and abroad—as the kids are exposed to, and inspired by, the profound impact of music.

The idea for MAP was developed in 1994 in the wake of massive cuts to music education in public schools. Part of the goal is to help those students most affected by the cuts and whose communities are under represented in the classical music world.   

They've been granted unfettered access to make “Spark,” and will follow the kids for another year. Upon completion, they're aiming to use the film as an educational tool to further inspire support for music education around the country. Any donations than can be made to the film—nothing is too small—is greatly appreciated!

From their website:

Music Education has been massively cut in US schools over the past decades, compromising our children’s education and jeopardizing our culture. “Some Kind of Spark” is a feature-length documentary (appx. 80-90 min) that follows seven inner-city kids (ages 7-14) from New York City as they embark on a life-changing experience—the opportunity to study music at the Juilliard School of Music.

Shot in HD over a 2-year period, “Spark” intimately follows the students inside the classroom and out; studying at home and abroad; from practice rooms to stages. It will serve as an entertaining and educational reminder of the power and importance music plays in all of our lives.

Julliard’s MAP program is a music and mentoring program targeting students underrepresented in the performing arts, including black or African American, Hispanic and Native American students, ages 7 to 14, from New York City schools. The idea for MAP was developed in 1994 in the wake of massive cuts in music education at New York City public schools. Part of the goal is to help those students most affected by the cuts and whose communities are under represented in the classical music world.

Several characters—from students and teachers to professional musicians—are represented in the film to help illustrate the impact music can have on us all. From Pete Destill, a 9-year old Haitian boy—forced to leave his country after the devastating earthquake in 2010 and now learning the flute—to Suzanne Morello, a former MAP student herself in 1994 who “came from nothing,” and is now a viola teacher for the program. Or Leisly de Plaza, whose parents from Ecuador have made every sacrifice to allow her to study the piano with Major Scurlock, her teacher who “came from the projects,” found the piano at 15!, and still managed to attend Juilliard as a student. He has taught there for the past 15 years helping kids like himself to “find their voice.”

Read more by clicking here!

Tags: Music Education, Music Education Documentary, Ben Niles, Documentary, Ben Niles Documentary, Juilliard School, Music Advancement Program
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