When they are not setting vibes or tearing the stage up, DJ Sienna and J Read are both very active in the community. Both are teachers at after school programs right here in New Jersey, and are passionate about their craft. Sienna commented, “We see the opportunities and experiences music has to offer, so it’s important these programs are around”.
Sienna is currently teaching children from ages 8-18 how to DJ at the After-School All Stars program in Newark. She loves working with the students and expressed she wishes there were more programs like hers in the area when she was younger. Because of her efforts, children in the Brick City are being exposed to an expressive, creative art that speaks to their generation. These after school programs are an alternative for the negative activity that often get the youth of our inner city on the wrong path.
Sonic Explorations is the after school music program at Oakwood Avenue Community school where J Read can be found four days a week teaching violin to an enthusiastic group of young students. “I’ve grown so much with these kids”, says J Read or “Dr. J”, as the students at Oakwood call him. Sonic Explorations is a partner of, El Sistema, founded in Brazil by José Antonio Abreu in 1975. El Sistema, which literally translates to “the system”, was created as a way to offer a musical education to children in low income communities who otherwise wouldn’t be granted the opportunity. You can watch this video to learn more about the program.
On Saturday, May 21st, you can catch Dr. J and the children of Oakwood Avenue perform alongside children in similar programs from Union City, Camden, Trenton, Paterson and Newark. NJPAC will host its 3rd annual “Fiddle Fest”, which takes place every year so students involved in El Sistema across the state can meet and create music together.