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Area nonprofits join forces to provide free music lessons, instruments.

The School of American Music, Neighbor by Neighbor, and Drew’s Gift of Music, announce a partnership called Nurturing Our Young Musical Neighbors to provide free music lessons and musical instruments to local eligible families.

 Neighbor by Neighbor is a non-profit based in Union Pier that provides assistance for individuals and families with short term emergencies. They can help pay overdue bills, car repairs, hotel stays, and provides an emergency food pantry.

Under the new partnership, Neighbor by Neighbor clients between the ages of 6 and 16 will receive free lessons from the School of American Music in Three Oaks. Neighbor by Neighbor will arrange for transportation, if needed.

If the family needs a musical instrument, it will be given to them by Drew’s Gift of Music, an Indiana non-profit with a mission “to empower students to obtain musical instruments, financial support for instruction and scholarships for advanced music education.” 

Peg Kohring, Executive Director of Neighbor by Neighbor said: “Our parents struggle to keep the lights on, food on the table, a vehicle running and a place to live.  It is inconceivable to parents to think that their child might be able to develop musical talent outside of what public schools provide.  While the most important part of the partnership with the School of American Music is the music lessons, students will also have an adult who sees their talent and encourages their musical development, and parents will be exposed to a community that cares about the success of their child.

Garth Taylor, Board President of the School of American Music said: “The benefits of early musical training are well-known — improved IQ scores, better ability to plan, organize, strategize, and solve problems, greater persistence, discipline, and effective collaboration.” Chuck Steck, a professional musician and local representative of Drew’s Gift of Music said: “We are proud to be part of this creative partnership. It represents truly innovative thinking toward the goal of providing a musical education (which ought to be a right) to everyone regardless of family circumstances.”

A grant has been provided by the Michiana Arts Foundation to start the program. As experience is gained and successes are achieved, the School of American Music will reach out to other donors to support the program.

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