Keys for Kids: Helping Children Learn to Play Music

October 13th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Greg

Najaai Johnson, Jocelyn Lopez and Briana Morton with Linda Mallory-Mitchell (director) and Stephen Smith (board member and volunteer guitar teacher)

Story and photograph by Wanda Callagy

This Sunday afternoon (October 15), a fundraiser will be held to raise funds for Capital District Keys for Kids, a Local 518 non-profit organization that provides music lessons to children… for free. Children in the Greater Nippertown area may learn piano, voice, drums or guitar from a program that was begun by and has been lovingly supported by Director Linda Mallory-Mitchell.

“The program begins in January each year and runs 10 weeks, said Mitchell. “The first five weeks are music theory, and the rest is all hands on,” she added. A recital is then set, and each student performs in front of classmates, parents, and teachers.

Post continues below...

Many students have returned to take another class. The class sizes are small, and each child progresses at his or her own pace.

“For the last 12 to 15 years we have offered classes in church basements, and different schools have housed the programs, as well,” Mitchell said. “One reason for offering something like this is that it has been proven that when the mental development of a child is stimulated in a musical way, it also activates other parts of the growing brain. I have just wanted to encourage the passion in children. The kids learn to read and play music for their enjoyment, and it helps them with math and reading so much else. At the recital, it is a chance for each child to each have a chance to be a shining star.”

Stephen Smith is a new board member and has taught for several years for the program. “I believe in it,” he said. “The kids who want to play, practice and get the knowledge to start and go anywhere with the skills they learn. I enjoy donating time because the rewards for the kids just get better and sweeter as they learn.”

“Building friendships and having a safe place to learn is cool,” explained student Najaai Johnson. “I want to get better and improve myself, and we’re not pushed to do anything we don’t want.”

The Keys for Kids fundraiser will be hosted by Donald “Soulman” Hyman, with entertainment by DJ Mr. CEO, comedian Lady T and the Room Service Band. The event will be held at the Elks Lodge in Albany from 4-9pm on Sunday (October 15) featuring raffles, a dance contest, buffet dining and more. Tickets are $35; $60 per couple.