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WIU music education major Jerry Crockrell has spent the last three summers working with inner-city youth in a Chicago music program.
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WIU Music Education Major Spends Summers Helping Chicago Youth

October 3, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – During his years in a Chicago high school, Western Illinois University senior Jerry Crockrell, a music education major, was drawn to one of the city's music programs to gain training and experience.

At the Chicago West Community Music Center (CWCMC), Crockrell was able to learn more about music theory and about playing the flute in his high school band.

Once he moved on to college, Crockrell became an intern for the center. For the past three summers, he has been a volunteer teacher for classes about music theory and how to improve musicianship with woodwind and brass instruments.

"To get these inner-city kids into a safe environment to learn about music is an amazing experience," Crockrell said. "That's the reason I keep going back; I learned so much about incorporating music into the classroom and dealing with children – we're using education to better students' lives."

Crockrell said his favorite part of being a part of the program is watching the students use what they learn throughout the summer in an end of the summer performance.

As an intern for CWCMC, the center's supervisors said he has become an inspiration to Chicago youth seeking to learn more about music.

"Jerry cares deeply about the success of the students, and it shows through his ability to communicate to students and draw out their zest for continued music instruction," said CWCMC Founder and Director Howard Sandifer. "He will become a very enthusiastic teacher because he cares deeply about the success of the students, a teacher that will go far beyond what is expected of him to make the learning environment a stimulating place for students to grow academically."

At Western, Crockrell plays flute in the Concert Band and piccolo in the Marching Band and is a member of the Music Teachers National Association chapter and the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity. He is also a Golden Apple Scholar, a scholarship that helps with his college expenses.

After graduation from Western, he hopes to return to Chicago to either teach music at the center or move into the city's school system as a teacher.

"I am so happy I'm here in the WIU Department of Music – everyone is so helpful and trying to help me grow," he said. "Here, I get the one-on-one support I need to succeed."

For more information on the program, visit

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