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Community Music School Seeks Donations To Bring Back the Music

A group shot of members of the Community Music School's Jazz Ensemble
Courtesy of the Community Music School

The Community Music School of Raleigh has been offering affordable music lessons to low-income students for 23 years. This year may be its last unless donors come through to support the school and its mission to offer affordable music education.

The non-profit school suspended classes in November due to financial strain. Its board is aiming to raise $100,000 by January 31 to reopen for classes in the new year.

The school's operation manager Erin Zanders said it was tough to make the announcement to students that classes were suspended. Shortly after, Zanders heard back from one mother who has five children enrolled at the school.

"She said to me, if it's money, we can do it. That's not an obstacle, to find the money," Zanders said.

The music school's 120 students pay only one dollar per lesson each week. All of its students qualify for the free or reduced price lunch program. Zanders says the school's lessons are significantly less expensive than most private lessons, which may cost $2o to $40 dollars an hour. 

Zanders said music education has many benefits for disadvantaged children. In addition to learning to play an instrument, students may improve their math and reading skills by learning to read notes on a page or their social skills by connecting with their peers through music.

"We also have students who just love music. There’s a lot of them for whom this is an outlet, this is a really important place that they come after school and they can connect with something that really moves and inspires them," Zander said.

The school relies on donations and grants to cover most of its expenses. Zanders said this year donations fell flat.

"It’s been a really rough year for fundraising for us. We were aiming to grow and the funding just didn’t come in the way we anticipated," Zanders said.

The Community Music School created two new fundraising positions, expanded some programs and took in more students in 2016, but their donations came in lower than they have in recent years.

The school is accepting online donations at its website to raise the funds it needs to continue classes.

"We're all really committed to making sure that we can open and not close again. We don't want to do that to our students," Zanders said.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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