“It’s really neat to see how music can bring all age groups together,” said Eric, a 17-year-old senior.
Eric is part of a nonprofit at his school called Fine Arts for All. It’s a student-formed, student-led group that seeks to expand music and art into the community, especially to places with limited access.
“Each and every one of us has been able to experience the pure joy and enthusiasm of either playing an instrument or being in the chorus and singing,” said 17-year-old Jeanne Yoon, a senior and president of Fine Arts for All. “We’ve all been able to experience just how magical fine arts is, and we just want to share that with others in the community who might not have access to that.”
Not only do fine arts make you feel good, but they could make you smarter, the students say.
Research shows that practicing classical music makes you a better thinker overall, said Krupa Patel, a violinist who serves on the Fine Arts for All board. Krupa, 17, is also a senior at North Gwinnett.
“It is really important for students to have exposure to music and fine arts because it develops the brain differently than just regular school might, and it’s inequitable that some people don’t have access to that,” Krupa said. “We’re trying to bridge that gap.”
Fine Arts for All was founded in 2019 by North Gwinnett students who saw a need to expand music and arts into their community. They volunteered at the senior communities and with middle school orchestra students. They held donation drives to collect instruments and give to those who couldn’t afford them.
Fine Arts for All ramped up its outreach efforts online during the pandemic. With schools closed, student musicians taught more than 60 virtual lessons on various instruments and at all skill levels. The initiative started because many middle school orchestra programs did not meet during the shutdown.
While the nonprofit no longer sponsors some of these activities, this year’s members are finding new ways to share their passion for fine arts.
At Peachtree Ridge Middle, the high school students work with eighth graders in small-group instruction and tutoring, said orchestra teacher Sadie Glasgow.
She said they have a unique ability to inspire the struggling student to be the best version of themselves.
“There is nothing like getting help from someone who could be a current or future friend – and our students look forward to receiving their assistance,” Glasgow said.
Every spring, the organization hosts the “Battle of the Bands” concert at the high school. Performers of various musical genres compete for the top three prizes.
The event raises money for the school’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life and is an opportunity to bring the community together to enjoy music.
Some new projects in the planning stages include a fine arts experience for elementary school students, The seven-week sessions will be at a public library and focus on painting, architecture, sculpture, music, literature, performing arts and photography.
“Children of all economic backgrounds can come here and experience fine arts if they don’t have the resources at their school or at their home,” said 17-year-old Claire Park, a senior and Fine Arts for All board member who sings in the high school chorus.
The students also plan to use YouTube to branch out beyond their community. They’re launching YouTube video lessons on various instruments and at different skill levels. The goal is to make music accessible to those who can’t afford private lessons.
They’ll also post interviews with college and professional musicians so those thinking about pursuing music can see what a professional music career looks like.
David Metrio, director of orchestras at North Gwinnett High, said he is impressed with how the Fine Arts for All students develop the projects, handle all the details, and follow through.
“It’s unusual to have such a high level of organization and self-motivation in students so young,” he said.
After the club’s founders graduated, students passed it on from year to year and kept it going, which doesn’t always happen, Metrio said.
“I’m always in admiration of their dedication and passion for sharing what we do with our community.”
HOW TO HELP
To learn more: fineartsforall.com