This year Chung Changing Lives will be expanding the SMART initiative and will collaborate with other community programs engaged in providing music instruction and training during this summer.


In July 2013, we partnered with Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC)  and 996864_10151487178182131_1255794561_nlaunched the Summer Music Academy for Real Teens (SMART) – a three week intensive for youth of Greater Boston to learn from and work with professional musicians to build their skills in songwriting, beat making, and more, but also to develop lasting connections across geographic and cultural boundaries with other young people who share a passion for music. Based on the success of the program, SMART ran again in 2014, as a six week intensive for 30 youth from greater Boston, ages 12-15. In addition to building the music skills of the participants, SMART provides opportunities for a diverse group of youth to hone their musical and creative skills and come together as one community.


About SMART?

Summer Music Academy for Real Teens (SMART) is a learning experience unlike any other. The goal of SMART is to improve cross-community relations among young musicians in Boston. The strategy through which we work toward this goal is by providing intensive music education in a community-based setting with diverse participants and staff, representing the range of racial, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds present in Boston. Other than core classes, such as songwriting and media literacy, youth will be able to connect and develop intercultural competence through teambuilding activities, outdoor excursions and various recreational activities and field trips. We use a curriculum that honors the many different life experiences of young people. The strategic objectives of SMART are:

  1. By the end of the six week program, 100% of SMART participants will demonstrate increased musical knowledge and skills.
  2. By the end of the six week program, at least 80% of SMART participants will demonstrate increased cross-cultural competence.

Participants are Boston-area youth between 12 and 15 with a passion for music; they will learn from working musicians in a community context.

Course Description

Core Courses Music & Media Literacy: Because of technology, young people are growing up more in sync with the rest of the world than ever. This means our future will be globally connected, but it can be challenging to digest all the different messages we get all at once. This discussion-based activity encourages students to process these messages and develop their own lens. Songwriting: Beginner or advanced, helps students understand their worries, fears, and joys and turn them into art. Songs written in this class will be recorded and shared with family and friends. Elective Courses Students choose from a number of electives for the duration of the program. Elective courses may include:

  • Music video production
  • Hip hop dance
  • Beat making
  • Art in Music
  • Deejaying
  • Taiko Drumming

All students engage in weekly recreational activities and outdoor excursions for teambuilding, building social skills, and supporting young people to experience diversity in new ways. Field trips include recording studios, concert spaces, and other cultural institutions of Boston.

When is SMART held?

When is SMART held? SMART runs from July 7th-August 15th, Monday-Friday from 10am-5:30pm. The program culminates with a final showcase, where students will share their original work alongside some of Boston’s best independent musicians.

Where is SMART held?

Boston has a reputation for being homogenous, but nothing could be further from the truth. We speak 140 languages. The Boston Public Schools are 36 percent Black, 40 percent Hispanic, and 9 percent Asian; for 45 percent of students in the system, English was not their first language. The Boston represented in movies and TV shows is not the Boston that real teens live in. Chinatown has a long history of being home to people trying their best to access new opportunities. When Chinese laborers first arrived in Boston in the 1870s, they walked a short distance from the train station, set up their tents and built a settlement in an alleyway that eventually was renamed Ping On Alley, which translates into English as “Peace and Security.” These were the first seeds of the community that is known as Chinatown today. Today, Chinatown is located in the bustling heart of Boston. It is adjacent to major stops on the MBTA’s Orange, Red, and Green Lines, as well as the Silver Line and several city bus routes. People from all over the region come through the neighborhood for restaurants and shopping, as well as the Floating Hospital for Children, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Citi Center for Performing Arts, Emerson College, Tufts Dental and Medical School, and much more, that keeps the streets of Chinatown filled with a broad sampling of the region’s communities.


Patrick Chung is known as one of the toughest players on the field, but is absolutely committed to working with youngsters to express themselves creatively through music. Chinatown and its residents are not widely assumed to be artistic innovators, yet many influential music artists are proud of their Asian heritage, including Ne-Yo, Bruno Mars, Amerie, and Patrick’s own father. Let us look outside ourselves. Let us define who we are to the world. Let us refuse to be categorized. Let us stay true to ourselves and our art. It’s not only a good idea; it’s SMART.