New Program Offers Free Music Opportunities to Napanee Youth

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New program creates free music opportunities for Napanee teens.

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The Harmony Lounge and Music Club launched in September and has already welcomed 30 young people aged 12 to 16 to its free twice-weekly programming.

The club is offered and hosted by St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church on Robinson Street in Napanee, a short walk from Napanee District High School.

Michelle Hauser said the nonprofit project began to take shape as the church emerged from the worst of the pandemic.

“It happened last spring as we looked around and thought, ‘Where are the gaps and the needs in our community?’ “, she said. “We came out of the pandemic with a pretty solid group of young people and talked to them about what they wanted and what we could do… for our children but also for the young people in the community who are not members of the ‘church.”

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With an inventory of church-owned musical equipment and a gap in arts and cultural programming for Napanee’s youth, the idea of ​​the club evolved – not only as a place to learn and play music, but also as a meeting place after school hours. program days.

A $5,000 grant from the Anglican Diocese of Ontario enabled the project to renovate a youth space in the basement of the church, as well as employ local music teachers as teachers for the twice-weekly program of eight weeks, with vocal instructor Karen Sheffield, Jim Knapp on guitar and Mark Hauser leading the band’s program.

Students can access after-school meeting areas and private and group lessons from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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Three high school students participate as student mentors, teaching one-to-one lessons, as part of the NDSS co-op program.

Spencer Green, a cooperative education teacher with the Harmony Lounge and Music Club program, teaches Matthew Lalonde on trombone at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Napanee on Nov. 8.
Spencer Green, a cooperative education teacher with the Harmony Lounge and Music Club program, teaches Matthew Lalonde on trombone at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Napanee on Nov. 8. Photo of Meghan Balogh /The Whig-Standard

“We have incredibly talented young people in this community,” Hauser said. “We have three cooperative teachers, all of whom are considering post-secondary careers in music.

“Marcy Satnik, the music program director at NDSS, has done a tremendous job and certainly deserves credit. She’s done a great job working with these kids through the pandemic to get them ready for it.

Hauser hopes more established and talented Napanee musicians will come forward to help lead what she says could become a cultural centerpiece for Napanee’s youth arts opportunities, integrating into youth programs in the future. children.

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“To any veteran musicians in the community who are retired, if they want to come and be a part of this, the door is open,” she said. “We can offer more and we must offer more. The demand is definitely there. We are doing this on a trial basis, but we want to develop a community music school. If we had even a fraction of the talented musicians in this community to help us, we could blow the doors off.

As families and children struggle to emerge from the lingering sense of crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hauser believes the arts can play an important role.

“There’s the rising cost of living, people are experiencing more poverty and mental health issues because of the pandemic, but I think this program is helping people get out of crisis mode. … We can surround these children and create for them this incubator where they can flourish by discovering music and focus not so much on the crisis as on the community.

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Spencer Green teaches drums and brass as a cooperative student teacher with the program. He would like to pursue a career as a high school music teacher.

“It’s been a great opportunity, just to teach people,” he said.

Green said the gap in high school arts programming is tough and he’s happy to help close that gap.

“We really don’t have much left in terms of music or the arts (at NDSS)…we really focus on skilled trades and technology,” he said. “It feels like there’s this missing piece of arts and culture that we really should have.”

Peyton Denstedt sings weekly in the Sheffield Singing Class.

“Since it’s free, anyone can do it,” Denstedt said. “For kids our age who don’t have the money to go to a professional singing group or school, it’s a good opportunity for them to get out and learn new things, and help them embrace their voice, even if they don’t have the money for it.Music should always be free.

Students cycle through songs under the direction of vocal instructor Karen Sheffield during the Harmony Lounge and Music Club program at St. Magdalene's Anglican Church in Napanee on Nov. 8.  From left to right: singers Julia Clair, Wyatt McKain, Peyton Denstedt, Lily Crozier and Charlotte Lalonde and guitarist Ethan Stein.
Students cycle through songs under the direction of vocal instructor Karen Sheffield during the Harmony Lounge and Music Club program at St. Magdalene’s Anglican Church in Napanee on Nov. 8. From left to right: singers Julia Clair, Wyatt McKain, Peyton Denstedt, Lily Crozier and Charlotte Lalonde and guitarist Ethan Stein. Photo of Meghan Balogh /The Whig-Standard

Although housed in the church, the program has “no religious agenda,” Hauser said.

“Music matters to us, and it’s not sacred music,” she said. “Children of any faith or no faith can be comfortable here.”

Students of the Harmony Music Club will be performing a concert at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, 137 Robinson Street in Napanee, on Saturday, November 26, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and the public is invited to attend by making a Don.

“I have to tell you, it’s so exciting to hear young people making music,” Hauser said. “So exciting.”

For more information, visit www.harmonymusicclub.ca.

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