Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra / Kids in Tune

Kalamazoo Kids in Tune is an orchestra, an after-school program, and as the students love to say, a family. A high-energy, musical family! Students spend four afternoons per week together learning to play instruments and jumping right into big symphonic music, including themes by Beethoven, Dvorak, Mahler, and the students’ all-time favorite, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Major musical works are central to the program philosophy of inviting even the youngest musicians to share in the beauty and power of great orchestral music.

KKIT is a unique cross-sector collaboration developed by Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO), Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS), and Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). The program is free to the 85 participants, students in grades 1 – 6 at Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts. The partnership relies on the expertise of each agency. KSO provides the curriculum, professional instructors, and instruments through local and national grants. The site framework is funded as a 21st Century Community Learning Center through CIS, providing a site coordinator, after-school coordinator, youth development staff, transportation, and enrichment options, and additional individualized services such as food packs, health and mental health services. KPS provides facilities, evaluation data, access to KPS busses and federal meal program, and band instruments.

KKIT program days are filled with music lessons, orchestra rehearsals, and clubs of choice, bookended by a daily nutritious meal and supported homework time. Embedded mindfulness work helps students learn healthy observation, reflection, and kind self-evaluation skills, all critical to making musical learning fun and transferrable to academic learning. A six-week summer program keeps students playing and practicing with their KKIT family through the break.

KKIT students are not just excelling musically — they are missing fewer days of school than their peers, turning in completed homework more regularly, and re-enrolling in the after-school program at a rate of 90%.

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