The Philly Sound Exchange pairs music with social justice terms for highschoolers

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A local non-profit is bringing students together using music as a common language to get them talking about race, equality and social justice.

It's music taken to a whole new level. The Philly Sound Exchange is a collaborative effort among high schoolers from the inner city and suburbs centered around hard-hitting conversations.

"In music, dynamics is loud and soft sounds and different ways to create the sound. And when we talk about action, there's the internal action, the quiet work that you need to do with yourself, and then there's the louder action, like going to a protest," said founder, Mike Schaller.

Schaller realized the beauty in pairing music terms to the conversation around social justice. For years he's taught in predominantly Black communities.

"It was in the last couple of years the white kids really need to be having these conversations, too, so that was where the project was born out of," Schaller said.

The 8-week curriculum right now is mainly virtual, but the goal is to record an album with students from the six participating high schools.

Nafisah Mays, now a freshman at Lincoln University and former program participant, says the mission is even more important in wake of George Floyd's death and nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

"We're the new generation, we're the ones taking the lead, like we are the ones who are going to set the standard for our next generation," Mays said.

The Philly Sound Exchange has also partnered with Temple University. The goal is to recruit more minority professors in the music program and arts in hopes of drawing a more diverse pool of students.
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