By Michelle Hang
The Youth Arts Academy program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, Polster Branch, has been expanding its curriculum for the past two years to accommodate the increasing number of students interested in the performing arts.
While music and performing arts programs have become more limited in public schools in recent years due to budget cuts and emphasis on core curriculum, Youth Arts Academy aspires to revive performing arts by offering a variety of programs for youth aged four to eighteen. Afterschool programs such as Jazz Band, Rock Band, recording classes and private music lessons help students explore creativity and self-expression.
"The Boys & Girls Club Youth Arts Academy has inspired me and developed me into the musician that I am today. The first experiences with group music lessons were very positive in my experience," said Jaeyoung Kim, a student who plays the trumpet at Youth Arts Academy.
One of the music instructors, Chris Conner, has been teaching at the academy for seven years and obtained his bachelor and master's degrees in music. He said he believes that music education can stimulate the youth to appreciate the arts.
"Music is a pure art form that speaks directly to the emotions. Music is prevalent in our everyday lives and it advances our culture, so it is important for us to have music education," Conner said.
Conner teaches Rock Band, a type of group lesson that is unique to Youth Arts Academy. "We treat it like real rock bands," Conner said. "There's no set curriculum for the students. The students choose covers and learn to compose and perform their own songs."
He explained that the classes operate mainly on each bands' unique experiences, so chemistry and teamwork are crucial to each band. Rock Band is more facilitative and different from other classes such as Concert Band and Jazz Band because Rock Band focuses on creativity and ownership, he noted.
Youth Arts Academy has recently expanded to the Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito, Harper Branch, in Solana Beach, with private piano and guitar lessons.
For more information about Youth Arts Academy, visit www.youthartssd.org or contact Melissa Rodriguez at (858) 720-2194. Scholarships, financial aid and instrument rentals are also available.