An adorable young boy grasps his oversized headphones with one hand as he smiles with joy while he plays piano.


Music and the Brain brings a music literacy curriculum, whole-class keyboard instruction, and ongoing professional development to schools in under-resourced communities. We empower music educators and ensure equity for all learners, helping students build skills to succeed academically and in life. Music and the Brain is a program of non-profit Building for the Arts NY, Inc.



Music and the Brain students learn to read music notation from lesson one as they develop piano skills.  Recent neurological research is proving that studying music is deeply connected to language acquisition and literacy aptitude.  Independent research involving Music and the Brain students revealed increased vocabulary and verbal sequencing abilities.

Music and the Brain teachers overwhelmingly report that their students’ ability to focus and their attention skills are improved as well as their fine motor skills as they participate in lessons.  This impacts learning across subjects.

Music and the Brain students develop critical life skills such as perseverance, determination and grit.  The structure of Music and the Brain gives students achievable benchmarks, allowing them to face challenges and celebrate their successes.

Investing in music teachers is central to Music and the Brain, providing ongoing training and year-round support, a complete music curriculum, and a classroom keyboard lab.  Music and the Brain builds on the existing talent within the school’s personnel to get stronger results for more students during the school day.


By building on the school’s existing staff and schedule, Music and the Brain is an incredibly cost-effective model for delivering cognitive and academic skills, particularly in students who most need the help.  Schools provide the teacher – Music and the Brain provides the system, the training and the tools, which can be used for years and years to come at a cost of less than $20/student.

A young girl concentrates on her sheet music as she practices piano independently.


Inspired by a 1996 Newsweek cover story by Sharon Begley entitled “Your Child’s Brain,” Building for the Arts’ (formerly 42nd St. Development Corp.) founding President, Fred Papert envisioned Music and the Brain as a way to deliver many of the benefits of private piano instruction to the public school curriculum in underserved communities.  Lisha Lercari, a career music teacher was the founding Director of Music and the Brain. Music and the Brain provides classroom piano/keyboard labs to give music educators tools to introduce repertoire to full classes while incorporating singing, movement and music theory.  Music and the Brain lessons teach students to read and analyze the language of music through diverse repertoire which allows for cross-curricular instruction.   The curriculum and program introduces students to folk, classical, world, rock, pop and jazz music.  Music and the Brain provides the ideal and most complete experience for children: academic rigor, fun music, commitment to practice and the rewards of perseverance.