“I teach piano because I enjoy sharing my passion and getting kids to feel the same way about music,” said Katia Galvan, 17.
Galvan, Mathew Chung and Chris Bujack are all young music teachers that were once students in the Bahama Village Music Program. They help teach 170 children a week a variety of instruments alongside Bahama Village Program Director Katchen Duncan. Classes are on guitar, piano, ukulele, sax, trumpet, flute or any other instrument that gets donated and a student has an interest in. The instructors get paid $10 an hour and the children they educate are from 6 to16 years old. It’s an incredible opportunity for kids that don’t have access to the costly world of instruments and lessons.
“We are here because every child deserves the gift of music,” said Duncan.
The kids do more than just learn to play a song they hear on the radio. It is a strong form of expression for one of the students.
“I learned there is more to life then what we learn in the classroom and in our home. I am really grateful to get lessons,” said piano student Laura Theodore, 11.
The program has been in the Bahama village community for 13 years. Many of Duncan’s previous students and teachers have pursued careers in show biz or college degrees. Kenzie Swaney and Rusty Koening are currently marching chiefs at FSU. Studies show music education helps with broader learning skills.
“Music is known to give kids a leg up in the world. It helps with cognitive development and critical thinking,” Duncan said.
Besides the music lessons, the Bahama Village Music Program has also spawned the Joyful Voices Choir with 32 students and a steel drum band with the help of the community at large. Musician Adrienne filmed a music video with the students and Larry Baeder instructs theory class and is putting together a jazz ensemble group with the kids this spring.
“It is beyond gratifying to watch these young musicians grasp the concepts of how music works and see the results in their ability to create melody spontaneously. I think this is music’s highest calling, ” said Baeder.
Adrienne also has a song called “Feels Like Christmas” available for download at adriennemusic.bandcamp.com. The proceeds benefit the program that is funded solely through fundraisers, grants and private donations. Lessons are Monday through Friday from 3:45 to 6:15 p.m. at their location on 103 Olivia St., Key West. To give a donation or for more information visit the organizations website, www.bvmpkw.org.