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The After School Arts Program at Penn offers music lessons to children in West Philadelphia.

Credit: Sophia Lee

The After School Arts Program at Penn held its annual fall talent show Saturday afternoon.

The program, a partnership between the Platt Student Performing Arts House and the Penn Music Mentoring Program, offers local children ages 10 to 15 a chance to learn a new instrument, sing or dance.

Over the last 10 years, The Penn Music Mentoring Program has expanded into numerous sites, including ASAP’s program with the Platt house, but also working with many schools including Penn Alexander School, a partner school to Penn, Comegys School and the Intercultural Family Services in West Philadelphia.

ASAP, the largest of Penn Music Mentoring Program’s sites, “Provides music lessons to underserved children in West Philadelphia,” Penn Music Mentoring Program Site Coordinator and College senior Margo Fingeret said. 

For eight weeks in the fall semester, music mentors worked with the children to develop their skills, and prepared them for the show. Every Wednesday, the kids came together to practice playing instruments and try dancing or singing. The sessions worked in 15-minute rotations, where the children had the opportunity to try each of the different options. After the first two Wednesdays, the students chose two subjects to focus on. They were then organized into different classes, and spent the next six Wednesdays preparing for the talent show.

“There is a girl learning piano and dance, so she has been working on a song for the talent show for the last month and a half," Fingeret said. "And in piano she has also been working on a piece of her choosing, usually it is up to the kid and the mentor to decide together.”

On Saturday, the hard work of mentors and mentees alike were showcased to a crowd of parents, siblings and friends.

Acts included a medley of Taylor Swift songs, violin renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner,” “The Star Wars Theme” and "Edelweiss” from "The Sound of Music." Some of the children also put on a skit, "Xbox vs. PS4, the Final Battle.” 

Upcoming events for the Penn Music Mentoring program include an annual study break before finals, where members of the Penn community are invited to learn about the program. The date for the break has not yet been determined.

Fingeret emphasized that the music mentoring program's main focus is working with children in schools each week. The initiative will start up again after winter break, with the spring semester sessions, culminating in another talent show at the end of Spring semester.

Fingeret added that she thinks it is a shame that they can't run the program for a full year.

“I have had parents come up to me and say, ‘can so and so come teach my child over break, we really want them to continue learning,’" she said.

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