After school music program proves extremely successful

New statistics show there's a lot more than a music lesson happening the Harmony project. (KTUL)

When the school year started at Kendall Whittier, fifth grader Citlaly Rico was excited to go back.

Her reason -- a bow, four strings and an after school program called Harmony Project.

“I feel really happy to play the violin. I have a nice violin and they gave it to me,” said Citlaly.

Harmony Project Tulsa is a non-profit that pairs professional musicians with kids. Channel 8 first introduced you to Harmony Project in September 2016. Now, there’s new proof that what’s happening after school isn’t just a music lesson.

“It’s specifically (for) high poverty students who would not typically have access to music lessons from professionals,” said Kendall Whittier Principal Ronda Kesler.

Kesler said the music lessons keep kids coming back to Kendall Whittier each year. In fact, most kids in Harmony Project never bounce between schools. Kesler said that’s unusual because she estimates at least 30 percent of her students transfer at some point.

“When kids move around a lot, they begin to withdraw over time,” said Kesler. “You might see behavioral outbursts.”

Students are staying in school and succeeding. Last school year, Harmony Project kids performed 30-percent better on their third-grade reading tests compared to their classmates.

“I’m really happy, happy to start it. Sometimes I don’t want to leave,” said Citlaly.

More youngsters at Kendall Whittier want to join the program, but there isn’t enough money to buy more instruments.

“It’s really nice to play the violin with such amazing people,” said Citlaly.

When their techniques are mastered and the songs rehearsed, the kids become musicians and members of their very own special orchestra.

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