The ARTogether Music Program
ARTogether offers after school music programming at Oakland International High School and Fremont High School in East Oakland.
The Music Program was launched in 2019 at Oakland International High School, a public school which exclusively hosts newcomer refugees and immigrants. OIHS is a remarkable place full of bright students. Yet from these students, 1/3 have limited-to-large gaps in their formal education, most have limited English fluency, and 22% are refugees who have escaped some of the world’s most violent and protracted conflicts.
The Music Program at the school, Led by musician and educator Nick Kanozik, offers the school’s first and only music program in over a decade. The class meets weekly afterschool. Students are given the opportunity to:
Learn how to sing and play musical instruments, such as guitar, bass, piano, drums and percussion.
Learn and play songs from their own traditions and countries of birth, and share them with other students in the class.
Play together in musical groups, with the opportunity to perform at school and other events.
Meet and learn from local musicians
Participate in field trips to local venues and musical performances.
It is not uncommon to have a class where students are all speaking separate languages, whether Amharic, Spanish, Arabic, Tigrinya, or English. “We can’t always speak to each other, but we still come together to make music; you just see their eyes light up!” Nick recalls. Suddenly, students can recreate songs from their childhood or melodies they’ve heard on the radio. “I can’t describe the experience in words.”
For the 2022-2023 academic school year, ARTogether expanded its Music Program to Fremont High School in East Oakland, working alongside FHS’s Newcomer Educational Support & Transition (NEST) Program. FHS has one of the highest dropout rates in the district, with 91% of students receiving free or discounted meals, and 57% of students with limited to no fluency in English. Currently 68% of the FHS student body is Latinx, with the high school hosting large numbers of Latinx immigrant students from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Annually, we also offer ARTogether’s Music Scholarship program, which provides a nominated student with money to buy their own instrument and private one-on-one music attention that they would not have had the opportunity to receive otherwise.
Our Music Program is designed not only to provide music resources to chronically-underserved refugee and immigrant students. It is about their stories, and creating non-verbal ways for under-heard students to express themselves without the burden of language barriers. Our goal is to create a welcoming space for these different stories, cultures, and musical traditions, and make something special together. We’re excited to be bringing these programs to FHS and OIHS, and continue to encourage students to explore music together, and to provide encouragement, direction, and resources to students wishing to pursue a passion in music.
Nicholas Kanozik is a multi-instrumentalist, visual artist, conductor, and composer. He unifies his skills through arts administration and education. He is committed to promoting multicultural music, interdisciplinary arts education, and reception of contemporary classical music. As an arts administrator, Kanozik has worked alongside artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanual Ax, Regina Carter, the Left Coast Ensemble, the Kronos Quartet, and has stage-managed at the 2,100 capacity Fox Theatre in Oakland, CA. Nick has also worked to provide opportunities for Oakland’s youth at PIXAR studios, Pandora, YouTube, Google, and many others.
This project is made possible with support from the California Art Council, the Oakland fund for children and youth, the Tah Dah Foundation, the Joseph & Vera Long Foundation, the Barrios Trust, and the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program.