Joe Malinconico

PATERSON — A successful performing arts program that has taught hundreds of Paterson children to play musical instruments over the past decade is undergoing a significant expansion.

The Paterson Music Project, which has about 390 participants, is adding another 90 slots this year, officials said.

Over the years, students in the program have been part of concerts at numerous locations, including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Several Paterson youths from the program have been selected for the prestigious Los Angeles Philharmonic Youth Orchestra National Festival.

“We are thrilled to expand our program so that more students in Paterson can learn to play an instrument after school and on weekends,” said Director and Co-Founder of Paterson Music Project, Elizabeth Moulthrop. “Our mission is to provide affordable and accessible extracurricular music programming.”

The 2018 Art in the Park Showcase was held in Overlook Park, located at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park on Sunday, October 14, 2018. Members of the Paterson Music Project perform during the showcase.

The initiative was launched in 2012, shortly after the Paterson school district budget cuts left many elementary schools without music teachers. It was started by the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts nonprofit organization and has included students who attend schools run by the Paterson Board of Education as well as Community Charter School of Paterson and John P. Holland Charter School in Paterson.

For students in the first and second grades, a Pre-Orchestra program is available for those who want to learn how to play the recorder, drums, and how to sing. For students in grades three through eight, instruction is available for playing the guitar, trumpet, trombone, flute, clarinet, bass and cello.

At present, students from more than 20 schools are enrolled in the after-school and weekend program. The impending expansion stems from an increase in federal funding for the program, officials said.

“As the district has faced the challenges of the deep cuts to funding for our art and music programs, Paterson Music Project has been a valuable partner in making music education available to elementary and middle school students in our schools,” said Paterson Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer.

Registration information for Grades 1 and 2 is available at The programs begin Jan. 31. Registration fees are $50 to $75, with aid for families who cannot afford that, officials said.

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