School officials in Marysville are working to make sure all students reap the academic benefits of playing music.
Officials are setting up a Music4Life program which provides access to musical instruments for families who can't afford them so children can participate in band and orchestra.
"It is to provide ready-to-play instruments to children in need in public schools," said Mark Wilder, a program coordinator for Music4Life. He is helping get the program started in Marysville. He previously helped start Music4Life in Everett.
Music4Life will collect instruments families no longer use, get them into playable condition — thanks to the help of Kennelly Keys Music — and make them available to students in need while they are attending Marysville schools. The Marysville School District has instrumental music programs in the middle and high schools.
Research shows that students involved in music do better in academics, especially math and sciences, said Jodi Runyon, director of engagement and outreach for the Marysville School District.
More than half of the students in the Marysville School District are low income, according to the Washington State Report Card published by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
"We definitely have a need to give them a leg up," Runyon said.
Music4Life started as a demonstration project in 2007 in Seattle Public Schools and helped by the Rotary. Since then the program has expanded to school districts in Highline, Shoreline, Edmonds, Northshore and Everett, according to the Music4Life website.
Wilder is setting up a group of volunteers who are committed to seeing the impact music has in improving students' academic ability.
"You begin to build a network where you can get instruments into the hands of students," Runyon said.
Wilder is working to get Music4Life operational before the start of the coming school year.
"It's really important that we get it going for the fall semester," Wilder said about letting students in the elementary know about Music4Life. "We want to make sure the kids have an instrument and stay in band or orchestra."
An organizational meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 22, at the school district office building at 4220 80th St. NE.
During the meeting, officers will be elected goals for instrument collect and figure out a needs assessments in the schools, Wilder said.
To get involved with Music4Life, contact Wilder at 425-686-8432.