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New Film Promotes Music Education


We have been fortunate lately to have so many new releases of music-related movies and documentaries. We were completely inspired by Alive Inside and were of intrigued by William H. Macy’s Rudderless. Now there’s a new documentary that shows the value of music education.

Some Kind of Spark by Ben Niles follows five kids living in some of New York City’s poorest communities who receive special instruction from Julliard’s Music Advancement Program. The renowned program provides Saturday instruction to students ages 8 to 14. The program is free and gives students unique access to Julliard’s instructors yet demands a lot of them, even the beginners. The film follows the students for two years in the classroom, at recitals and at home and shows their commitment to becoming better musicians (they can spend hours in rain, sleet and snow just commuting to Julliard) as well as their struggles with family issues and stage fright.

Niles is clearly a music fan (he made Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L103) and the film is meant to be uplifting and be a rallying cry for more music instruction for children. Yet, as one critic noted, the film can be frustrating for highlighting such a unique program.

Firedoglake writer noted: “It’s a reminder of how much the lives of children are enriched by a musical education — and sadly an implicit lament about how children are increasingly being robbed of such opportunities.”

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