Year-End Mania: Maura Filoromo's 5 Philly music organizations making a difference in 2015 - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Matt Kerr of Beyond the Bars at Philadelphia Industrial Correction Center | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo |

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2015 incredible. Today, Key writer Maura Filoromo recaps five music nonprofits that stood out year.

Our city’s music scene is growing. The quality of Philly music is great, but so are the people in the scene. Philadelphia has many caring individuals dedicated to the music community here and building it up.  From music education programs to volunteer-run music organizations to benefit shows, Philly is a city filled with a lot of hearts that want to help! Below are five organizations in Philadelphia that are using music to make a difference. 

1. Beyond the Bars

Beyond the Bars began from a conversation. Musician and teacher Matt Kerr was working at an after-school music program he started at his school. A mother of a student in the program is the warden at Philadelphia Industrial Correction Center.  She approached Kerr about starting a music program for the youth at the prison. The organization brings music instruction to incarcerated youth ages 14-18 who have been tried as adults. In the time since my interview with Kerr earlier this year, the program has gained many more volunteers, held benefit shows, and partnered with Temple University. Expect many more great things from them in the new year. [Click here to learn more about supporting Beyond the Bars]

Girls Rock Philly

Girls Rock Philly | photo via

2. Girls Rock Philly

Girls Rock Philly started with 20 campers in its inaugural camp week held in 2007.  Now, it has grown to two summer camps for youth, two weekend camps for adults, after-school programs, and an annual gala.  Since its founding, GRP has been committed to using music education to build leadership skills and self-esteem, and to encourage collaboration. There are no mistakes at camp! As I’ve heard both as a camper and volunteer there, “If it sounds good to you, then it is good.” 2016 will be a big year for the organization. GRP has outgrown its current space in Fishtown and is looking to move. Also, GRP is going into its 10th year as an organization, so expect some exciting events and festivities! [Click here to learn more about supporting Girls Rock Philly]

3. Musicians on Call

Musicians on Call is a well-established organization who’s been on the scene for quite some time now.  MoC started in New York. In 2004, a Philadelphia chapter was started thanks to a partnership with WXPN.  The organization has several programs including the following:  Bedside Performance Program; CD Pharmacy Program ,providing patients access to dozens of CDs; and Project Playback, where musicians and patients create an original song together.I know several music therapists and have seen them in action. What happens is amazing. From the young to old, music seems to transcend any illness and connect with a part of that person that nothing else can quite reach. That’s why this organization is so powerful and needed. [Click here to learn more about supporting Musicians on Call]

Recollective Records artists (from left) Christian Express, Faylin Johnson, Milton, and Patrick Donovan | Photo courtesy of BSMG

Recollective Records artists (from left) Christian Express, Faylin Johnson, Milton, and Patrick Donovan | Photo courtesy of BSMG

4. RECPhilly

RECPhilly has established their dedication to the Philadelphia music scene. Previously, you may have known the RECPhilly team as Broad Street Music Group, the events and promotion company (see my article that details the transition). Now they’re continuing their support of local artists with a special interest in helping those artists get the resources they need to start a music career. As their website states, “RECphilly seeks to provide the tools and resources for the local creative community to build sustainable careers in the Philadelphia region.” RECPhilly wants to see Philly become a music industry on par with New York and LA. The determined people behind this organization are certain to make it happen. [Click here to learn more about supporting RECPhilly]

5. Rock to the Future

Started in 2010, Rock to the Future is a music education program that is offered to youth from grades 6 through 12 at absolutely no cost. Music programs in school are dwindling, and Rock to the Future knows how vital these programs are to students.  Music education has proven to help students perform better in school, plus it is a great form of self-expression. This organization is committed to offering free instruction to youth from low-income families.  Through instrument instruction, band practice, and homework help, Rock to the Future is giving students the tools to succeed in school and in music. [Click here to learn more about supporting Rock to the Future]

Students perform at the Rock to the Future summer camp | Photo by Elizabeth Mazenko

Students perform at the Rock to the Future summer camp | Photo by Elizabeth Mazenko

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