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Summer camp opens world of classical music to low-income students

Posted June 26

— Malik Snipes, 8, is working on his drum technique.

“I feel like a master!” he said about learning to play.

Snipes is spending the month of June at the Kidznotes summer camp at Club Boulevard Elementary School in Durham, where campers are preparing for a big concert next month.

Kidznotes gives children in lower-income schools in Durham and Raleigh access to free music lessons all year long. Executive Director Kathryn Wyatt said Kidznotes gives children an education they may not otherwise be able to afford.

“Classical music is expensive, and it's often been an art form reserved for the elite,” Wyatt said.

The idea was inspired by El Sistema, a Venezuelan program founded in 1975 that helps children from all economic backgrounds learn to play in orchestras.

The first Kidznotes orchestra started in Durham in 2010. The group expanded to Raleigh-area schools in in the past year and hopes to have full 100-person orchestras in Raleigh and Durham by 2020, with 500 students enrolled in each city's program.

Wyatt said Kidznotes gives students more than just musical education.

“It builds a sense of confidence and contribution, that you are something in the world and that you've got something to say and something to build,” Wyatt said.

The lessons have given Snipes plenty of confidence.

“I want to become a master of music, a master of instruments,” he said. “I'm just trying to accomplish my goals.”

The group relies on donations and volunteers to keep the lessons going. It also needs instruments, because each student gets his or her own to keep. To help, visit the Kidznotes website.

Musician Branford Marsalis will meet with Durham students next month.

The Durham students will have a concert at Club Boulevard Elementary School at 2 p.m. on July 10. The Raleigh students' concert will be at Walnut Creek Elementary School at 5:30 p.m. on July 2.

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  • musthavecoffee Jun 27, 11:49 a.m.

    This is awesome.