LOS ANGELES – Many high school students who were once at a disadvantage due to the cut of school music programs now have the opportunity to venture further in their musical passion due to SLAM!
SLAM! is a program in Los Angeles, as well as a project of Community Partners, which provides public high school students the opportunity to receive after school music classes led by college student volunteers. Founder and Regional Director Roi Matalon began the program while he was a student at UCLA. He craved for an opportunity to get involved and began volunteering alongside a few friends at a local high school that suffered from budget cuts. He spoke with students and received feedback on what they expected to get out of the experience in order to better understand how to structure the class.
“There is a desperate need for our program as there are so many schools that have lost their music programs due to budget cuts,” Matalon told Canyon News. “Some schools have instruments they no longer use locked up in storage so we often work with those. It’s a match made in heaven.”
Matalon’s vision expanded to a network of over 50 UCLA and USC SLAM! volunteers who provide music instruction to high school students throughout the Los Angeles County. The volunteers have contributed over 5,000 hours of volunteer work and have offered their services to over 200 high school students.
Volunteers are thoroughly trained to know how to personalize the structure of lessons with curriculum that focuses mainly on contemporary music. Each class is assigned a lead instructor who creates the weekly curriculum and an assistant instructor. Classes have 5 to 10 students and take place throughout the week for an hour and a half. Class subjects include lessons in piano, guitar, percussion, songwriting, voice and rock band. At the end of each quarter, students perform in a final showcase to present to their family and friends how far they have come with their music.
The SLAM! program allows college students to vitalize their musical talents to enhance the lives of teenagers. “It gives students a way to express themselves in the most powerful way,” said Matalon.
SLAM! gives students the chance to fall in love with music in a way that would not have been possible in any other outlet. In addition, it creates camaraderie between students and volunteers as they establish new skills and learn from each other. “I feel most rewarded when I sit in the back of a class and watch volunteers show so much compassion for their students, passion for the music and just rocking it,” said Matalon.
To learn more about the program visit http://www.slamprogram.org. To assist in funding the program and supplying students with instruments, make a donation at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/slam-support-music-mentorship-in-los-angeles by May 1, 2014.