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Kidznotes is a music for social change program that engages students pre-Kindergarten through the 12th grade in an intense, fully integrated, out-of-school musical program that includes instrumental instruction, choir, music theory, general music, orchestra, and band. Our classes are taught by Teaching Artists (TAs), professional musicians, and music teachers who are committed to teaching young students. The program operates 10 hours per week, 40 weeks a year, and in a 3-4 week Summer Camp.

Envisioned as an educational and community enrichment program based on the El Sistema model and adapted to the local realities of the communities we serve, Kidznotes provides instruction free-of-charge to interested children in the lowest-income neighborhoods of Durham and Raleigh. Like El Sistema, the teaching approach of Kidznotes is that everyone can learn music, and that love of the children comes first, the music second. To instill self-esteem in the children, teachers emphasize the value of each child.

Durham Partner Schools:

  • Club Boulevard Elementaryhub and spokes
  • Eastway Elementary
  • E.K. Powe Elementary
  • Maureen Joy Charter School
  • Y.E. Smith Elementary
  • Holton Career and Resource Center (Durham nucleo)

Raleigh Partner Schools: 

  • East Garner Elementary
  • Poe Elementary
  • Walnut Creek Elementary (Raleigh nucleo)

Our students are split into four ensembles: Mozarts (beginning level I), Haydns (beginning level II), Vivaldi Symphonic Orchestra (intermediate) and All-Stars Ambassadors (advanced). Kidznotes students take part in whole ensemble work within their age group, as well as small ensembles such as the Jazz Band, String Quartet, String Orchestra, and Bucket Band.


Program Objectives:

  • To encourage children’s participation in music training and to improve their musical performance abilities.
  • To foster the development of children’s social behavior and values which contribute to success at school and in society.
  • To support the development of children’s school readiness and academic achievement.
  • To encourage children’s positive decision-making.
  • To promote parents’ engagement in program and community activities.


Program Components:

Instructional sessions: To fully engage students in the program, classical, orchestral training sessions are held for 10 hours weekly by instructors trained in the El Sistema methodology and approach:

  • Informal and formal performances: To encourage our students to become comfortable in front of audiences and to build group solidarity, they give frequent performances throughout the year in small ensembles and larger groups: informally, for each other, for parents, for visitors, and formally, for scheduled audiences in the community and beyond.
  • Field trips, visits by performing artists, other music-related activities: To foster our student’s awareness and appreciation of the larger arts community and its possibilities, and to foster pride in their own accomplishments, Kidznotes students and their families are taken on field trips to concerts (symphony, chamber music, festivals, schools). In addition, in partnership with our community partners, Kidznotes students and families will have the opportunity to take part in workshops, master classes, and demonstrations by our guest performing artists.
  • Parent outreach: To engage parents and other family members in the Kidznotes program and in the goal of building community, Kidznotes families are invited to attend sessions and performances, accompany children on field trips, meet with program staff, and even volunteer in the program.

Information for parents interested in applying is available on our Parents page.

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