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.


  New York City

PS002 PS008 PS011 PS018 PS020 PS028 PS036 PS046 PS063 PS084 PS111 PS129 PS132 PS134 PS140 PS142 PS145 PS152 PS158 PS165 PS175 PS185 PS189 PS192 PS212 PS213 PS 281 PS340 PS513 MS862 MS291 HCZ Promise Academy II
West Side Montessori The Reece School

PS010 PS012 PS017 PS038 PS040 PS045 PS066 PS093 PS110 PS114 PS123 PS130 PS132 PS133 PS135 PS139 PS147 PS151 PS170 PS193 PS199 PS200 PS221 PS233 PS247 PS251 PS257 PS274 PS299 PS307 PS316 PS346 PS361 PS375 PS384 PS401 PS677 PS682 PS705 MS227 MS240              St. Marks Day School Brooklyn Scholars Charter School

PS001 PS005 PS020 PS033 PS036 PS049 PS053 PS065 PS077 PS107 PS114 PS153 PS157 PS196 PS207 PS212 PS244 PS443
Mott Haven Academy

PS029 PS042 PS055

PS007 PS016 PS017 PS020 PS038 PS046 PS048 PS058 PS063 PS068 PS071 PS078
PS085 PS091 PS092 PS107 PS111 PS114 PS115 PS119 PS120 PS/IS128 PS133 PS149 PS156 PS160 PS171 PS176 PS182 PS196 PS201 PS212 PS251 PS273 PS349 PS362 PS360 IS240 Riverton St. Charter School

Charles W. Henry School Cook Wissahickon Elementary Andrew Hamilton Elementary Penn Alexander Elementary Gilbert Spruance Elementary Bridesburg School Overbrook Educational Center Academy at Palumbo High School H.B. Hackett Elementary Roberto Clemente School Bache Martin School Chester A. Arthur School Girard Academic Music Program Gompers Elementary E.M. Stanton School Feltonville School C.C.A. Baldi Middle School George Washington High School Southwark School William M. Meredith Francis E. Williard Elementary Northeast High School Thurgood Marshall School Philadelphia High School for Girls Fox Chase School Nebinger School Overbrook Elementary Samuel Powell School Edwin Forrest School Caskey Torah Academy
Miami Springs Elementary Frances S. Tucker Elementary Earlington Heights Elementary Bonita Springs Charter Fulford Elementary Dr. Carlos Finlay Elementary North Miami Elementary South Miami Heights Elementary Perrine Academy Myrtle Grove Academy
New Orleans Bethune Elementary Arabi Elementary Davies Elementary Gauthier Elementary Smith Elementary Lacoste Elementary Arlene Meraux Elementary Encore Academy Sylvaine Williams College Prep Akili Academy of New Orleans Louise S. McGehee School Fifth Ward Elementary LaPlace East St. John Elementary Emily C. Watkins Elementary John L. Ory Communications Magnet School Lake Ponchartrain Elementary LaPlace Elementary West St. John Elementary Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy School
Ferguson, MO
Airport Elementary Central Elementary Combs Elementary Commons Lane Elementary Halls Ferry Elementary Johnson Wabash Elementary Lee Hamilton Elementary Parker Road Elementary Robinwood Elementary Walnut Grove Elementary Cool Valley Elementary Duchesne Elementary Holman Elementary Wedgewood Elementary Griffith Elementary Vogt Elementary Bermuda Elementary
New Jersey
Newark Sussex Avenue Renew School Harriet Tubman School B.R.I.C.K. Peshine School Spencer Miller School Rafael Hernandez School B.R.I.C.K. Avon School Lafayette School Quitman St. School Chancellor Avenue Elementary Moonachie Robert L. Craig Elementary
New York State
Long Island Theodore Roosevelt School Vernon School Briarcliff Elementary South Street School Tuttle Avenue School Mount Vernon Graham Elementary
Kings Beach Parent’s Co-Op Washington Elementary
Manatou Springs Elementary Monarch Classical School of the Arts
Butler Elementary School Riverdale Elementary School
Calvert School/Skillful Sounds
Hope Leadership Academy Monroe Elementary, St. Louis
Sam Rayburn Elementary, McAllen
Endeavor Intermediate School, Milton Toledo Elementary School
Clearwater Elementary West
North Carolina
Shamrock Gardens Elementary, Charlotte


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.