A Closer Look At MUST

You have probably seen the MUST logo dancing around SVR’s website, but are probably wondering, what is this organization?  Music in Schools Today was born when citizens of San Francisco, members of the San Francisco Symphony, and Sir Yehudi Menuhin, former violinist with the  Symphony, rallied to combat the elimination of elementary music from San Francisco Unified School District in 1980.  Thanks in part to Sir Menuhin’s rousing speech, the school board enthusiastically restored the music budget.  The original coalition became a non-profit in 1983 and then Music in Schools Today (MUST) in 1989, instituting music and arts programs for children and youth around the Bay Area.


In 1990, MUST began accepting donations of “gently used” musical instruments under its Adopt An Instrument program to put them in the hands of school children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to play them.  MUST also began offering free long-term planning to start or strengthen Bay Area school music programs.  Over the next ten years, the organization grew to serve at-risk children and youth in the greater Bay Area and Los Angeles.  MUST is working change public opinion about the need for music education, restoring it as an indispensible part of the school curriculum.

Music In Schools Today reaches over 21,000 students annually, and children directly benefit from every dollar donated to the organization.  $25 covers the cost of rhythm sticks for 20 children.  In other words, the cost of an average meal in San Francisco supplies 20 students with countless lessons on rhythm, a foundational concept in music knowledge.  $75 provides an hour of music instruction for that same class of 20 children, and $1000 supplies that class with music instruction for an entire semester.  For $1000, an at-risk youth also has the ability to attend a drum facilitation and group leadership workshop. 

MUST targets our most at-risk youth: programs serve at least 80% at-risk youth, some with severe learning and emotional disabilities, exhibiting high incidences of sexual abuse, suicide, violence and other related behaviors. MUST balances teaching music enrichment with music integration into core curriculum, making a powerful impact on California schools.

Basic instrumental and vocal music programs include band and orchestra, hip hop, rap, choir and glee club.

Achieving Through Music, which began in 2000, supports at-risk children and youth through therapeutic music intervention, typically using percussion circles. The purpose of the program is to lower incidence of youth violence and other at-risk behaviors, and to improve academic performance and life skills, leading to improved educational and employment opportunities for these underserved youth.   Understanding Culturesalternatively offers an accessible and sophisticated introduction to basic music and movement, while integrating science, reading and social studies with world music. MUST believes that children can learn to respect themselves and others of diverse cultures through the lens of music, exploring music, discovering their own talents and learning life skills.

MUST’s research demonstrates how children learn through music, providing the ammunition needed for groups advocating for music education.

MUST offers professional development to schools and districts, helping teachers to meet the Core Curriculum Standards by teaching them to integrate language acquisition, language arts, science, math and social studies into the school day.

Silicon Valley Rocks! is proud to support Music in Schools Today again in 2012, and is grateful for your help in providing children with life-changing music education!  See you on November 29!