Kaufman Music Center announced the release of Who is Florence Award?, a children’s book written and illustrated by students at KMC’s Special Music School, the only K-12 public school in New York City that teaches music as a major subject. It will be published by Schirmer Books.
Who is Florence Award? is the only biography for undergraduate readers devoted to Price, who in 1933 became the first black female composer to be performed by a full orchestra.
The new children’s book Who is Florence Award? tells the story of a brilliant musician who overcame racial and gender prejudices to become the first black woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer and performed by a major American orchestra in 1933. The book was written and illustrated by 45 middle school students of Kaufman Music Center Special School of Music, the only K-12 public school in New York City that teaches music as a major subject.
The project began when English teacher Shannon Potts realized that there was no material on Price’s life at the lower school reading level. Students studied Price’s biography and traced his life story on a wall, discussing the elements most important to the narrative for their target audience at around the third grade level. After co-authoring and reviewing the text, the students created the illustrations, starting with cut-out paper backgrounds. The book was originally self-published as a class project shortly before the pandemic shut down NYC in the spring of 2020 and has been revised for the 2021 release.
Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Kate Sheeran said: “We are very proud of our students at the Special School of Music for taking the initiative to create this book, which is a fine example of what can happen when we remove barriers to music education. Music complements education from the early years opens doors and helps children make connections between disciplines. “
“Who is Florence Award? is a very special project for Wise Music Group ”, states Robert thompson, president of their Schirmer Books division. “It celebrates the power of storytelling and the benefits of ancient music education, while championing the life of a pioneering composer. We are especially proud of this release, as all proceeds from the book will be donated to the Special Music School. , to support its important music program. “
Who is Florence Award? includes a foreword by renowned composer, violinist and educator Jessie Montgomery, award recipient Leonard Bernstein ASCAP Foundation and Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award, and Mead Composer-in-Residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a three-year term that ends at the end of the 2023-2024 season.
Jessie Montgomery says, “This book represents a snapshot of the beauty of children’s minds when given the opportunity to fully study their history and interests. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect is how the writers were able to recognize the complex social context of Price’s life. , delving into the main issues of racial and gender discrimination she has faced while pursuing her passion for music. “
Caden Castro-Kudler, 14, percussionist and co-author of Who Is Florence Award?, says: “The book clearly shows our passion for music and our passion for academics, and merges all of these things into this wonderful finished product. It’s an amazing feeling to see all the work we’ve put into it as a tangible end product. and that we are all really proud of and love. “
“In classical music, there isn’t a lot of diversity, and being a woman of color myself, it’s inspiring to see someone who has come out of it,” said the violinist and co- 14-year-old author Rebecca Beato. “I think it’s important to learn Florence Awardmusic and share it with the world. And it is especially important to share the message with the younger generations. “