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 Students at SOAR Academy East Mesa Learning Math Through Music

​Program Recently Recognized for Music Education Advocacy

Students at SOAR Academy East Mesa are learning basic music and mathematical concepts through notation and rhythm as part of the Confined Redefined Project.

The program, created by East Mesa Head Teacher Mimi Seney, uses music to expand mathematical concepts for the school’s teenage boys who are either serving or awaiting further adjudication for serious offenses at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Center. Music is taught in a hands-on approach through self-pacing, self-monitoring, and self-regulation, allowing students to experience mathematical application during musical performances.
“I was always afraid to try new things because I was comfortable with what I knew,” said one student. “When I was introduced to this new experience, I felt like I came out of my shell.”
The program recently received the Advocacy in Action Award from Music for All, Inc. for its outstanding commitment to music education advocacy. The Advocacy in Action Award designation is presented to music programs, schools, and communities across the United States that demonstrate outstanding achievement in local efforts to provide access to music education for all students.

Seney created the project as a way to integrate math and take students back to the place where learning was fun. 

“It’s such an honor to see my students recognized for something truly positive,” Seney said.
In the award application, Seney wrote: “Music heals. For this group of students, pairing music with rhythm using mathematical principals will direct their focus to more pro-social behaviors while decreasing the negative anti-social tendencies. The Confined Redefined Project has resulted in students learning basic music and mathematical concepts through notation and rhythm.”

“Project Confined Redefined is one way Ms. Seney is bringing the arts to our incarcerated youth at East Mesa,” said Site Administrator Nathan Head. “She has taken a lead role in fostering students’ expression by means of learning the joy of playing music.”
Research indicates student engagement in sequential music learning improves brain-function while developing the life skills of empathy, self-confidence, and collaboration. Additionally, students of the arts demonstrate higher attendance, graduation rates, and academic achievement compared to their non-arts peers.

In addition to this program, some students at East Mesa also participate in the David Harp’s internship program, which aims to empower students who are system affected and homeless to achieve academic success through music education, sound engineering, and multimedia production.

For one student who is involved in both programs, working with music allows him
to fly.

“Music for me is and will always be another world to get away from the hard times that I go through. During the six-week David’s Harp program (which I’m very grateful that I got to participate in), I felt like I was flying whenever a pair of headphones was placed on my ears or a microphone was spoken into.”