Safe Schools For Alex donates $10K to provide virtual music lessons to band students
With COVID-19 threatening low-income communities with food insecurity, job loss and other uncertainties, the organizations worked in cooperation with each other to launch the “Let The Music Play On” initiative, which is aimed at helping middle school students who are not receiving personalized instruction like they were before the crisis.
James S. Rickards Middle School, a Title I school in Fort Lauderdale, recently received a $10,000 donation from the initiative to become the pilot school for the program. Over 75 students will receive free one-on-one private music lessons each week for a month.
Safe Schools For Alex’s mission is to provide the most current school safety practices and resources to students, parents, school districts and law enforcement so that all children can grow in a safe learning environment. It was established by Max Schachter in honor of his late son Alex who was killed during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland.
“Our goal is to prevent tragedies like what happened to us happen to other families by reducing violence in schools,” Schachter said. “For that to happen, you have to make schools a safe place of learning and a positive environment.
“That’s what music did for Alex,” he said. “Alex’s trajectory and attitude totally changed after music came into his life. I was nervous because, in the band classes, these children are in middle school, they’re in classes with 90 kids and one instructor along with so many different instruments. I was worried if Alex would be able to not only learn the instrument but really fall in love with it.”
To help his son begin to truly enjoy music, Schachter hired a Skype tutor to provide a one-on-one environment in which Alex could thrive and appreciate the instruments more.
Soon after Alex had a few online lessons, he quickly became more invested in music and began growing a passion for playing the trombone, Schachter said. He later went on to play for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagle Regiment Marching Band and helped the school win its first state title during his inaugural year with the program.
“For every $127 that we raise, we’re able to enroll a child and give them free online, private one-on-one music lessons for a month,” Schachter said. “Each child will get a 45-minute lesson with an instructor every week for a month. I’m hoping that it will put a smile on these children’s faces and it will really go to prevent these kids from putting down their instruments while in quarantine.
“I’m hoping these online lessons from School of Rock will instill a love for music and — like Alex — build their self-confidence and also instill a work ethic,” he said.
Safe Schools For Alex wants to increase the amount of Title I schools included in the program and has reached out to superintendents in other states to expand its reach. Donations for the initiative may be made at safeschoolsforalex.org/let-the-music-play-on and will help grow the program and provide opportunities to band students around the nation.