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Students bring music lessons to community

Augustana group organizes fundraiser to benefit church music academy

April  01, 2011

A group of Augustana student musicians are putting the final details together for a weekend concert and fundraiser that may benefit some of the Quad-City students they are teaching. For more than 4 years, Augustana has partnered with Second Baptist Church Music and Arts Academy to teach students who have few opportunities to learn music. The fundraiser is to help eliminate another obstacle: the funding for those in the most need of a creative and constructive outlet to take the lessons.

Senior Veronica Smith, a double art history and environmental studies major from Plano, Ill. is excited to help more students gain a new skill.

 "Through music (as well as the written and visual arts) people are able to see both themselves and others more clearly — there is a reverberation, a resonance, a connection," she said. "In a country where arts are constantly undervalued within the framework of public education, it is crucial to provide opportunities for young people to learn that they in fact have something valuable to communicate and to provide them with the training to do so."

That training is a product of a dream from the pastor of Second Baptist Church who wanted to have a music ministry based in the church. Today Augustana students and faculty are teaching about 70 students per week who range in age from five to 72 and live in the Rock Island and Davenport areas.

"I am so proud of the excellent teaching and role-modeling that our students provide," said Dr. Janina Ehrlich, cellist and professor of music, who teaches at the Academy as well as recruits students to contribute. "They are indeed special people and are deeply appreciated by the families they serve."

The concert and silent auction fundraiser is Saturday, April 2, at 7 p.m. inside Wallenberg Hall at Denkmann Memorial Building. The Augustana World Hand Drumming Small Ensemble, Sassy Pomegranates and several other Augustana musicians will participate in the concert. Admission is one dollar and all the proceeds for the event will go towards scholarships for music lessons.

Located in the west end of Rock Island, The Second Baptist Church Music and Arts Academy is a community based after school program that desires to provide high quality music instruction at low cost, mainly to serve the children and adults of the church and surrounding community.