Project Headstart is a collaborative venture between the Ithaca College Music Education Department and the Tompkins Community Action Headstart Program. The project is designed to provide music experiences both for children with special needs, such as students with disabilities and those who are English language learners, and for children from low income and high needs backgrounds. During weekly visits to Ithaca College's campus, students from area Headstart programs participate in lessons designed to provide valuable musical opportunities. Music lessons are also structured to enhance and expand skills that are taught in their Headstart classroom. These include gross and fine motor, language, cognitive, and social skills. In addition to the enhancement of developmental skills, children in this program experience the joy of making music from the time they enter the class until they leave.
Project Headstart also provides a unique opportunity for Ithaca College music education majors. Under the advisement and supervision of music education professors, music education majors, enrolled in Music Education for Children, and junior and senior vocal music education majors, participate and assist a lead teacher during the classroom experiences. In addition, the project provides opportunities for students in the Freshman- and Sophomore-level Music Field Experience to observe.
This unique and valued undertaking is coordinated by Dr. Emily Mason (Assistant Professor of Music Education) of the Ithaca College Music Education Department, and Lee Dillon (Executive Director), Jeanette McCord (Program Director) and Michelle Blodgett (Liaison) of the Tompkins Community Action Organization.