RMF Outreach Initiatives
After-School Music Programs
After-School Program at Reading High School
Created by the Outreach Committee three years ago, the Reading Latin Music After-School Program originally began as a two-week program in the fall and spring at Northwest Middle School. Since then the program has grown into a year round program offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Reading High School for students at the high school and Reading Intermediate High School. RMF felt it necessary to provide a safe haven at no cost to participants for both established and beginner musicians for instruments and genres that fall outside the typical school music program. On average there are 75 dedicated participants. Students learn Latin styles, including Cuban, Salsa, Mexican and Brazilian, on instruments like guitar, bass, keyboard, congas, bongos, hand percussion, harmonica and even voice. Daily instruction features group-style lessons along with preparation for a concert to conclude the program. The four instructors (guitar, keyboard, percussion and voice) are all professional musicians and private and/or public educators.
The After-School Latin Music Program is unique because it attracts a new audience of musicians. The majority of instruments are not available in a traditional school music program. Current student musicians are drawn to the challenge of new instruments, while others are able to try music in a noncompetitive and encouraging environment.
After-School Music Programs at Olivet Boys and Girls Club
RMF is the music program at Olivet Boys and Girls Club, providing lessons on guitar, private keyboard, group keyboard, chorus, electronic composition and percussion. There is also a two-week summer program featuring all instruments. RMF opened Gravity Studios, a state-of-the-art recording studio in Fall of 2016 at Pendora Park, the newest club location for Olivet.
Music in the Schools Assemblies
Offered by RMF continuously since 1969 and its largest-scale music outreach program, “Music in the Schools” provides more than 60 educational concerts in the county’s elementary schools annually. About half of the budget for Music in the Schools is a direct appropriation by the Foundation’s board of trustees. Other financial support last year came from the Rachel Herb Music in the Schools Fund of RMF and fees paid by participating schools and their parent-teacher organizations.
Project Penske Jazz Jams
These professionally-taught Jazz Jams available for area high schools are sponsored by the “Project Penske Jazz Education” grant from Penske Truck Leasing. Mike Eben, our volunteer coordinator for the program and retired Muhlenberg music educator, schedules and organizes the jam sessions. He hires professional musicians from Berks and surrounding counties, as well as college musicians from Kutztown, Temple and other well-known music colleges. Each session is open to any musician, no matter the playing level or age. The sessions feature a short concert, followed by jazz improvisation, which is crucial to any jazz musician’s training.
Operation Replay – RMF’s Instrument Recycling Program
Underwritten by Zeswitz Music, Operation Replay recycles donated band, orchestra, and percussion instruments as well as guitars and keyboards. Now in its 17th year, “Operation Replay” gathers quality used instruments, pays for their cleaning and repair, and places them with children who cannot afford rental fees or the extra expense of a “step-up” instrument. Over 1,500 instruments have been placed through Operation Replay since its inception in 2001.
For more information on how to request an instrument through Operation Replay, or donate a used instrument, please click here.
Special Project Grants
RMF’s Outreach Committee awards multiple grants annually for projects that fall outside of RMF’s annual appropriation window for grants. The committee encourages individuals and organizations to apply for funding up to $1,000 if their project focuses on any of the following:
- Makes music-making more accessible
- Serves genres underrepresented in RMF’s other funding (particularly folk music, world music, instruments not typically found in school music programs, and music therapy)
RMF will not consider grants that request:
- Programs outside of Berks County
- Funds that will most likely ultimately leave Berks County (example, programs that purposely do not hire Berks County musicians, etc.)
- Funds to hire musicians for fundraisers
- Funds for research grants
If you think you have a good idea for a program, please send a RFP (Request for Proposal) to RMF describing the scope of your program. If you have applied for special project in the past, or have been invited to apply for a special project, download the RMF Outreach Committee Special Project Grant here.
Student Recognition Awards
Each year the Reading Musical Foundation sponsors four student recognition programs that reward teamwork in the music classroom. Available to each school district in Berks County and chosen by the music department, monetary awards are made to musicians exiting middle school, seniors, accompanists, accomplished jazz musicians and musicians who also excel in STEM subjects.