The Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School sits in a New Orleans neighborhood stressed by violence, poverty and the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. But don’t tell that to the music teacher.
“Ooh, everybody has such a beautiful smile this morning! Good Morning!”
Pat Sylvain-Little’s music class is a world apart. And she says there’s a lot more going on here than just a piano lesson.
“It’s something about the keyboard,” Sylvain-Little told Miller. “You have so many things you have to do at once. You’re playing with two hands. You’re trying to read the music. You’re trying to count the rhythms, all at the same time. And what researchers have found is that it sparks the brain.”
Sparking the brain of a child is what motivated Lisha Lercari to create this course that’s now being taught in 14 schools in New Orleans, and 130 in New York City.
Lercari is a music teacher on a mission.
“I think children need to read music,” Lercari said. “I want to raise the bar high for them. I want them to be thinking beings while they’re playing and not just play it. It’s making it a process of thinking about it. It’s a process of using their brains.”