MARQUETTE - In a world where there are worries about kids not having enough to eat or a reliable place to sleep at night, music lessons might not seem that high up on the priority list. But music can make a big difference for kids.
"I started giving lessons here and I had two kids come in. They could only afford two lessons and with two lessons you can't get much accomplished," said music instructor Shane Murray, who gives lessons at MacDonald's Music Store in Marquette. "I just wanted to keep teaching these kids."
Inspired by those two kids, Murray started Music For All Kids, a program that provides lessons for kids ages 5 to 14, whose families might not be able to afford it.
Music instructor Shane Murray gives a lesson to Jocelyn Hildinger, 6, of Negaunee. Murray has been working to start up the program Music For All Kids, which provides music lessons for children through the age of 14 whose parents might not be able to afford lessons. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
From a career in social work, Murray said she noticed the large impact music can have in the lives of children, particularly those who might be faced with difficult life circumstances.
"I was in social work for four years and I found the kids who made it were ones who had an outlet and had a passion," she said. "Studies indicate that children who begin studying music at a young age are more likely to do better in school and are less likely to be influenced by negative peer pressure."
To help as many area kids as possible be able to take lessons, Murray said MFAK is taking donations and sponsorships, usually between $20-$200, from businesses or individuals. Others have donated instruments, such as three guitars that students can now use.
Particularly with music becoming less of an art that is taught in families and with funding cuts to schools, Murray said she felt it is important to make sure today's young people have a chance to learn an instrument.
Students are typically accepted through referrals from area schools or individuals. Kids can sign up for eight half-hour lessons or four hourlong lessons on guitar or any instrument they want to learn.
Lessons cover everything from how to play and tune an instrument to note values, and a bit of music theory.
Eventually, as the number of donations and the number of students grows, Murray said she hoped to see the program become a self-sustaining foundation, with former students stepping up to become instructors.
"I hope to get more spaces; I hope to get more instructors," said Murray, who currently teaches in space donated by MacDonald's Music Store.
Those interested in making a donation or becoming a sponsor of Music For All Kids can contact Murray at 906-235-5163. Donors will receive a certificate and a thank you card from one of the students. Those wanting to refer a student for lessons can call the same number.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.