Student Piano Accompanists fight inequality in Chicagoland music education

Research shows that music training boosts IQ, resilience, and focus. The value of incorporating music into a child's education cannot be understated, which is why Richelle Shi, a rising senior at Stevenson High School, established a nonprofit organization called the Student Association of Piano Accompanists (SAPA). At around 20 Chicagoland underprivileged elementary and middle schools, SAPA organizes volunteers that provide free piano accompaniment and lessons for children. They also reach out to schools with underfunded music programs and donate piano keyboards, incorporating a music curriculum that follows a cognitive based approach to develop long-term collaboration and memory skills.

SAPA's main goal is to provide the opportunity for teens to take on leadership and service roles while also advocating for equal accessibility to music education across communities. Recently, SAPA has been expanding across the nation, where new chapters are being built in low-income schools. They strongly believe in the importance of breaking down socioeconomic barriers and mobilizing our youth to follow their passions regardless of financial hardships. Shi continuously strives to combat educational resource disparities in her community through hosting various fundraising events.

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