In the fall of 2009, retired symphony conductor Hal Weller and retired inner-city school principal Arturo Ochoa launched the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians (FAYM) and the "Violins for Kids" project.
Their aim was to offer low-cost music instruction to youngsters in underserved neighborhoods in Las Vegas. The program has grown from 15 to over 150 students from 51 elementary schools currently enrolled in two community center locations for after-school lessons beginning in third grade. What's more, FAYM has exciting plans for further expansion.
The mission of the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians is to encourage and support gifted young musicians in (1) early training, (2) advanced study, and (3) professional career development, specifically those who are in need of financial and/or mentoring support up to the age of 26. In addition, an important part of the FAYM mission is to develop programs for the support of needy children in receiving music education.
As an affiliate of the worldwide El Sistema movement, FAYM's "Violins for Kids" project provides youngsters with instruments, materials, two to three lessons a week, a weeklong music camp experience in June, and special musical field trips for just $20 per month. Parents are urged to attend lessons with their children to form a strong, common family bond. In addition to violin training, classes are offered in cello, beginning and advanced string orchestra, and Mariachi.
Cofounder Hal Weller writes:
"Scholarship and career assistance has been offered from the beginning and has reached students not only in Las Vegas and the U.S. but across the world--in Poland, Australia, Germany, Peru, and the U.K. to name just a few.
To our great fortune, Las Vegas has one of the very finest music education programs in the nation. Through our "Violins for Kids" program we hope to level the playing field by starting kids who otherwise could not afford instruments and lessons at the third grade level so that by the time they enter CCSD's instrumental training in sixth grade, they are at least equal to those whose families are better off.
Also, the intent from the beginning of FAYM has been to make sure that from every dollar contributed to FAYM, at least $0.99 goes directly to the cause of bringing music into the lives of those who cannot afford instruments, materials, and lessons.
As a result, FAYM pays no CEO, has no office or facility rents, no phone bills, or other such overhead. Our instruments are purchased at cost and cared for by a luthier (a maker of stringed instruments, board member Juan Soto), who generously gives his labor pro bono. Accounting, Internet service, and social media functions are also provided on a pro bono basis. Our board is composed of devoted individuals who make sure that the nearly "zero overhead" construct remains an essential part of FAYM.
Our FAYM parents and relatives are super invested in "Violins for Kids." Over the years, they have held fund-raisers that have been a major factor in subsidizing the program, and they have actively participated in the classes and board.
For those interested in donating time, talent, or treasure, Arturo Ochoa, I, and others on our board would be happy to hear from you. Just e-mail FAYM@live.com."
For more information about the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians, visit http://thefaym.org/
About the Author
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.
Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.
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