Project 440 engages, educates and inspires young musicians, providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders.
Through music, every young person is provided with the opportunity and tools for individual growth and community impact.
Project 440 was founded in 2007 by three young Savannah natives after the Savannah Symphony Orchestra disbanded. Formed simply to fill the void left in both music education and access for young people in Savannah, the first incarnation of Project 440 was known as the "Savannah Chamber Players.” The founders designed enrichment services and community engagement programs with performances and workshops offered in community centers, retirement communities and public schools. Over time, the founding members, all professional musicians, realized that it was very difficult to find accomplished young musicians with the skill sets required to serve their communities as they had been doing in Savannah. They also came to realize that service work through music was not only a valuable skill set for aspiring musicians – as valuable as focusing on their own careers – but also imperative to cultivating the next generation of classical music makers and music lovers.
In 2010, Joseph Conyers, our Executive Director and one of the original founders, moved to Philadelphia, PA and the name "Project 440" was adopted. (Project 440 refers to the 440Hz "tuning A" of an orchestra - thus, just as the oboe leads an orchestra with the 440Hz pitch, Project 440 students are learning to be 21st Century leaders.) With a new name and mission, the organization's focus changed from presenting community engagement concerts to teaching young musicians the importance of service through music while simultaneously teaching them the skills they need to be successful in life beyond high school. Programmatically, P440 has developed a comprehensive curriculum which uses music as a tool to cultivate tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders. Organizationally, Project 440 has grown from an all-volunteer organization with a small board to a professional organization with paid staff, a dynamic and hands-on board, and a growing national reputation for providing innovative programming to budding musicians.
In 2015, co-founder Joe Conyers, assistant principal double bass of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Executive Director of Project 440, was named the music director for the School District of Philadelphia's All City High School Orchestra. With Joe in this new role, a partnership was established between the School District and Project 440. Project 440 is unique - we do not teach artistry; we use music as a means to teach life and career skills for success. Joe's indefatigable commitment to working with the youth of Philadelphia and providing increased opportunities for the students in the SDP has put a spotlight on the importance and efficacy of music programs. The vision for Project 440 is clear: we engage student musicians in educational programs that teach them to use music as a tool to create opportunities for themselves and to give back to their communities.
This year, Project 440 evolved once more to better meet the needs of the students in the SDP. Through data analysis and utilizing student feedback, we refined our offerings and expanded the number of students we will reach annually.