Miami Music Programs That Help Underprivileged Youth


Jazz Collective trumpeter Gabriel Johnson – who is part of a jazz ensemble program from Young Musicians United, a non-profit organization that provides access to music education to any student in Miami-Dade County – performs a solo during a rehearsal at the Wynwood School of Music on 1260 NW 29th St., Miami on Monday October 11, 2021.

Special for the Miami Herald

At the age of 10, Starina D’Haiti arrived in the United States as a refugee on a military plane after her home country, Haiti, was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. For two years , his family did not have a permanent home, leaving a friend’s house. to another. As her home and surroundings changed frequently, a constant in her life was the Miami Music Project.

“This is my home,” D’Haiti, 20, said of the Miami Music Project, which has helped her acclimatize to American culture.

Founded in 2008, the Miami Music Project provides free after-school music education to underprivileged communities, 96% of their students are from low-income backgrounds. At five locations, the Miami Music Project uses music to teach children fundamental life skills that will help them not only in school but also in the workforce.

“To learn to play an instrument, you have to put in hours and hours, struggle, be frustrated and even more difficult,” says Anna Klimala, president of the Miami Music Project. Double bass player with a master’s degree in music education, Klimala explains that it’s wrestling that can be so beneficial. “It teaches you patience, determination, focus, memory, all of those things that have nothing to do with music but everything to do with your success in life.

Klimala’s belief in the change music education can bring is not just based on her experiences as a musician. The Miami Music Project, in collaboration with the Florida International University Research Institute, conducted a three-year program study of the Miami Music Project. Some of the notable results of the study were a 93% increase in effective communication, a 96% increase in self-motivation, and a 92% increase in self-esteem among participants.

Among Miami Music Project alumni, 100% graduated from high school and 100% went on to graduate school. The program has alumni from schools such as Berklee College of Music and the University of Chicago.

Eduardo Chocron is one of these students. A 20-year-old Venezuelan immigrant, he arrived in the country without speaking English and is now a second year student at Berklee.

“They kind of took care of me,” Chocron said. “They have led me to everything that has happened to me.”

Chocron also highlighted the leadership skills that music can teach. Unlike some, Chocron came in knowing how to play his instrument, but the Miami Music Project pushed him to become a better musician.

“I have become a concert master of their conductors’ orchestra,” he said. “They motivated me to lead and become a good leader, it was a good challenge for me.”

Like Chocron, the Miami Music Project has also helped D’Haiti develop his leadership skills. Almost a decade after her first lesson, D’Haiti now teaches cello for the Miami Music Project. “The circle has kind of come full circle,” she said.

Leadership, practice, patience

Young Musicians United is another charity that focuses on music education. Founded by Sammy Gonzalez, 35, Young Musicians United partners with colleges that don’t have music programs. Through this partnership, Young Musicians United provides instruments and teachers to the school and helps them set up a music program over a three-year period.

“We’re going to teach you how to do that, we’re going to fit you in and you’re going to slowly take ownership of the program,” Gonzalez said.

Although Gonzalez says schools are the main drivers of the program by grade three, they continue to help with instrument repairs, field release forms, fundraising, and other administrative tasks. which can be overwhelming for teachers.

In addition to directing Young Musicians United, Gonzalez also runs a music school and works with particularly talented musicians from the Young Musicians United classes. Gonzalez espouses the same benefits of music education as Klimala: leadership, practice, patience, and social skills.

Guerwen Gue, 16, was in sixth grade and had never considered playing an instrument until he took a course from Young Musicians United.

“I thought it was going to be like any other class where you’re just on the phone and not really doing anything,” Gue said. “But the first class blew me away. I thought these people were so talented and that they are there to play for us.

Although initially skeptical, Gue is able, five years later, to list the ways in which music has helped him.

“I was able to improve myself socially, have better grades, be a better reader… and be kind to people,” said Gue. “I realized that first impressions really matter.”

Gue previously thought he would work in a fast food restaurant after high school, now he plans to be the first person in his family to go to college.

He has a scholarship for Interlochen Center for the Arts and hopes to one day transfer to a Juilliard. After that, he hopes to return to Miami and give back to those who have helped him.

How to help

Miami Music Project


E-mail: [email protected]

Instagram: @miamimusicproject

To donate to The Miami Music Project, click on the “Donate” tab in the left corner of their website.

Young musicians unite


E-mail: [email protected]

Instagram: @youngmusicianunite

To donate to Young Musicians Unite, click on the “Donate Now” tab in the upper right corner.

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