Summertime Projects

Can you believe school is just around the corner? Summer flew by, as it tends to do – it only really lasts a couple of months, and the time quickly dwindles when you account for travel, summer camps, and other obligations.

The brevity of Summer, however, also makes it the perfect time to switch from weekly practice plans to a more project based approach. Finding one or two big goals that you want to accomplish – be it a new song you’d like to learn or write, a new monologue, or a new dance you want to perfect – is an amazing way to spend your summer and gives you something to show for the months when school is not in session.

The key to project based learning is to make it fun, exciting, and focus on an area that students don’t necessarily have time to explore during the hustle of the school year. I personally took this approach this Summer and learned “Don’t Tell Me” by Madonna. It’s always been one of my favorite music videos and I really wanted to add it to my catalog…this Summer was an excellent time to explore, set, and achieve that goal!

Summer is a fantastic time to re-evaluate where your student is and where they would like to be; to think about questions like – what do I really enjoy? Is there something else I want to be learning, maybe another instrument or facet of performance? What would I like to learn more about?

It is so important to build in time to define and revisit what our students find exciting and intriguing about music and what their passions are. Supporting students’ interests and developing a springboard for their exploration is crucial to their development both as an artist and as a person. I encourage everyone to pose these questions to their students this summer, set a project based goal or two, and have them communicate their desires and goals with their teachers – DAMPA is here to support dreams! Lets make them come true together!

Why is Hip-Hop so Powerful?

by Wyatt Jackson,
President Mo’Genius University, Inc.

Hip-Hop radiates worldwide! At this present moment, rap music is dominating the billboard charts, urban attire designed by hip-hoppers sells at record-breaking numbers, advertising agencies are using hip-hop to market everything from children’s toys to sports cars, and meanwhile the larger society stands in awe of all this action.

From New York to New Zealand, Boston to Berlin, Portland to Paris, the hip-hop culture has influenced not just the lifestyles of the youth that support it, but also the world economy within which it’s structured.

Why does this relatively new cultural expression have so much influence over so many people? Why within a few years of hip-hop’s official beginnings in the South Bronx of New York, does its character bring together so many different nationalities? How do the hip-hoppers themselves create the music, rhymes, dance and ad campaign that stimulate our imaginations?

These questions have puzzled me often. I’ve attempted to answer them based on the fact that I was raised as a hip-hop enthusiast, and therefore believe I know the ‘real’ reasons why we do so well nowadays. Some of my conclusions hit the truth right on the head. Others can be, and have been, argued by my peers in the industry, which forces me to rethink my thinking.

Most recently I received an answer to a question I’ve had for years concerning what brain skills we hip-hoppers use to create our art and learn new information. Where the answer came from was just as bizarre as the answer itself. I discovered a specific field of brain research while in Paris, France called, “Whole-Brain Thinking”, pioneered by the leading business consultant on creativity, Tony Buzan. His findings on the brain and how it works while involved in creative activities began to show me why the hip-hop culture is leading in the fields of music, film and advertising.

I discovered that the right half of the brain deals dominantly with the following skills: color, daydreaming, space, imagination, music, and rhythm. These skills are usually refereed to as: creative, artistic, emotional, musical, intuitive, sensory, and visionary.

I also found out that the following cortical skills were found on the left side of the brain: analysis, linearity, lists, logic, numbers, sequence, and words. Psychologists and brain researchers refer to this side of the brain as: intellectual, academic, judgmental, and technical. Tony and his companions mentored me on the ways I could apply the research on the brain to the work I do as a hip-hop artist/consultant. I began to see the connections between the “creative” side of hip-hop and the “technical” side of it.

When we use Rap songs to communicate a message, we are using both the left and right sides of the brain: music, the right side; words, the left side; imagination, the right; logic, the left; rhythm, the right, and so on. Essentially, that is whole brain thinking! This helps people to remember more of what’s being communicated because more brain skills are being engaged in the process.

In a similar way, when Graffiti art is used as a logo for a brand, the following brain skills are being activated: color, right; words, left; images, right; sequence, left; and space, right.

As we observe the many companies using hip-hop concepts to strengthen their image and increase sales, we need to keep in mind the powerful activity of the brain and see the connection it has to the bottom line. The urban scene has proven once again to the world that ‘genius ideas’ can come from anywhere.

Wyatt Jackson is the founder and President of Mo’Genius University – a contemporary multi-media content provider for fortune 500 companies and educational organizations. He was featured in The Source Magazine, VH1, BET, Harvard University’s School of Education Newsletter, and The Boston Globe. Visit to sample creativity measurement tools for your company or organization.

How DAMPA Helps

One of the things that makes DAMPA awesome is our passion and commitment to helping others in our community. Check out just a few of the ways DAMPA and the love of music have helped!

Early Childhood Development

By now, you know what we say – Music Makes You Smarter! But did you know that music ignites all areas of child development and helps little ones develop the skills needed for school readiness? Another cool thing – it is NEVER too early to start. DAMPA offers classes beginning at 0 months – that’s right, even brand new babies benefit from music! Here are some of the ways music helps our little students:

  • Accelerated brain development – especially in language acquisition and skills for early reading.
  • Building motor skills – dancing isn’t just fun! It also helps children build muscle and develop coordination.
  • Practicing self expression – another way besides tantrums for toddlers to tell you how they feel. Parents who start their children in early childhood music classes report less frequent tantrums. Sign us up!
  • Increased hand eye coordination – which helps with writing skills.
  • Developing memorization skills.
  • Building self – confidence.

Music Therapy

DAMPA is extremely proud of our incredible Music Therapy Program. We have worked with students suffering from traumatic brain injuries, Autism, behavioral and emotional disorders, limited mobility, physical impairments, and those of advanced age. We have seen these students achieve and even surpass their goals – and we are beyond thrilled to be a part of helping them reach their milestones. DAMPA’s Music Therapy Program has helped students by:

  • Developing an avenue of expression for those who find it difficult to express with words.
  • Facilitating movement.
  • Increasing motivation to become engaged in their treatment.
  • Providing an outlet of expression for feelings when words, movements, and facial expression may fail.
  • Improving cognitive function.
  • Improving/developing social skills.


DAMPA is so proud of our NYC summer program students Savanna & Hunter! Check out what they’ve learned the last few weeks from Broadway professionals at the Joffrey Ballet School’s Musical Theatre Intensive!

Hunter and Savanna had an amazing time learning from Broadway professionals and seeing their teachers live on stage in the shows! Each student in the program takes ballet, tap, jazz, acting voice, and performance studies. Phew! That’s a lot of work. But nothing our DAMPA students can’t handle. Check out these photos and videos from their awesome journey in New York!

5 Reasons Everyone Should Tap Dance

We’ve all heard of tap dancing, and probably witnessed it at a dance recital or other performance at some point. Making music with your feet through dynamic movements is fun for the dancers and entertaining for those watching, but beyond being a super fun past time, tapping also carries unique health benefits, both physical and mental for tap dancers of any age group.

DAMPA is excited to offer a brand new tap dance program and a new tap company. Here are some reasons we are encouraging our current students (and students that hope to enroll in DAMPA) to add tap dance to their repertoire.

  1. Tap Dancing is FUN fitness.
    Tap Dancing builds leg strength, increased flexibility in the lower body, AND is a fantastic aerobic exercise. Tap Dancers who practice three times per week see an immense cardiovascular benefit.
  2. Tap Dancing Improves Balance.
    Tapping requires a lot of weight shifting. This improves balance, coordination,and core control….which means better posture, less back pain, and less of a chance of serious injury from tripping or falling.
  3. Tap Dancing is Noisy.
    It doesn’t matter your age, being noisy feels good! It’s also an amazing emotional release. Using Tap Dancing as an outlet for expression is incredible for improving emotional health and building self confidence.
  4. Tap Dancing Makes You Smarter.
    Here at DAMPA, we KNOW Music Makes You Smarter, and we say it all the time. Guess what? Tap Dancing does too! Tap steps are complex and often very detailed. Learning tap steps and practicing is great exercise for your brain. Studies show that dancing (including Tap!) may help prevent Alzheimers and Dementia long term.
  5. Tap Dancing Helps You Become a Better Musician.
    Tap Dancing is the music AND the main attraction. When you learn to tap dance, you become a better musician and dancer. Tapping helps you tap (HA!) into your inner rhythm and improves your sense of finding the beat and patterns within music.

With such incredible benefits, physical, mental, and emotional it is easy to see why DAMPA has decided to increase the focus and emphasis that we put on Tap Dancing. We have recently joined forces with the Queen of Tap, Katelyn Harris and her Rhythmic Souls tap group in order to expand our tap and dance offerings to those who may be interested.

In order to learn more about tap and other awesome opportunities at DAMPA, please visit our website, email us at or give us a call at 214-965-8324.



With so many after school opportunities, it can be confusing trying to determine what will work best for your child. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should consider getting them involved in music lessons!

The Joy of Music Making
Put simply, playing music is fun! It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Even as students grow up, they can continue to play for their enjoyment. Einstein used to play violin to relax when he became stuck in his thought process – music helps clear the mind and calm the nerves!

Self – Discipline
Children learn how to structure their time at home to prepare for their weekly lessons. The simple use of a practice chart teaches children to set aside time for practicing and to track their progress towards a long-term goal. It is a very kid-friendly way of learning how to plan ahead.

Develops a Higher IQ
You are probably saying, “What? Really, music lessons can increase my child’s IQ?” Yes, there is evidence to suggest that on the whole music lessons improve general intelligence. A study by E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto published in Psychological Science shows that a group of students that took music lessons improved their IQ scores more than a control group that took no music classes. MUSIC MAKES YOU SMARTER!

Work Ethic
As students learn a difficult piece of music to perform for a concert, competition or evaluation, they must work hard to memorize and to develop the fine motor skills necessary to be successful. This type of conscientiousness is highly correlated with success in school and life.

Reduces Stress
A short-term and long-term benefit, music has been shown to reduce stress by triggering biochemical stress reducers according to an article in U.S. Today. Music helps us to relax and forget about our troubles for awhile. The act of actually playing music accentuates these effects.

Higher SAT Scores
The College Board reports that in 2012 students that participated in music scored an average of 31 points above average in reading, 23 points above average in math and 31 points above average in writing. In previous years, the results have been similar.

Improves Memory
According to Dr. Laurel Trainor, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior at McMaster University, “Young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training.”

Research by Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus shows that music training in childhood positively changes to the anatomy and function of the brain and that these changes are carried into adulthood. Prior work linked music lessons to enhanced auditory brainstem encoding with heightened auditory perception, executive function, and auditory-based communication skills.

Long Term Positive Effects on the Brain
Many high achievers have studied music. Nearly 100% of past winners of the prestigious Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology (for high school students) play one or more musical instruments according to the American Chemical Society. And if this isn’t impressive enough, many of our memorable leaders have played instruments or sang including Neil Armstrong, First man on the moon, Baritone, Thomas Jefferson, Former U.S. President, Violin & Cello & Piano, Woodrow Wilson, Former U.S. President, Violin, Harry Truman, Former U.S. President, Piano, Condoleezza, U.S. National Security Advisor/Secretary of State, Piano, Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor of the telephone, Piano, Thomas Edison, Inventor, Piano, Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize Winner, Piano and Violin.

Builds Self Esteem
A study by Costa-Giomi published in the Psychology of Music investigated the effects of three years of piano instruction on children’s self-esteem. Children in the study were divided into two groups: piano instruction weekly for three years and no music instruction. Both groups had similar levels of self-esteem at the beginning of the study. The researcher found that the children who completed three years of piano instruction had a significant increase in self-esteem while the children who did not participate in piano instruction or dropped out of piano instruction did not have an increase in self-esteem.

With so many awesome reasons to enroll your children in music lessons, you’ll probably want to get started right away! Please visit our website – or give us a call at 214-965-8324 to register for Fall Classes today!