Over the past three (3) years, in partnership with JP HRO & Little Kids Rock, MHI has been working to provide free music lessons, training, and instruments to youth in Delmas. Students from JP HRO School of Hope, as well as other schools in the area have access to our music project “ Music as a Second Language’’.
This program’s methodology is based on the Suzuki Method, promoted by Little Kids Rock, which replicates a modern orchestra format. It is based around the ideology that music is a universal language and, given the opportunity, anyone can learn to play music.
Our curriculum promotes the well-being and development of our students; among them, two young people with a shared passion for music, Olsen Weby Joseph (15 yrs old) and Godsoon Pierre Brown (16 yrs old). Olsen says that he is extremely glad to have this program in his life. “When I am not happy, I take my guitar and it removes my pain […] music is my joy, music gives me hope.”
In addition, our program promotes continued training for teachers. J/PHRO’s Community Development project manager, Jean Marc Didis explains that “all facilitators have access to training and workshop sessions with local musicians. The sharing of good practices is done on a weekly basis, which allows them to strengthen their musical skills and teaching techniques for an overall improved performance.”
MHI provides free instruments to music students, which allows them to practice on their own at home. Parents and teachers alike have recognized a change in the demeanor of the children participating in the music program. According to Olsen’s father, his son is more self-disciplined and he can see that his son truly enjoys the art of music.
“Today the influence of the Music Heals International initiative and J/P HRO extends to other schools in the community,” says Sara Wasserman, founder of MHI. Currently, 300 students from 6 schools, including 37 children with special needs, participate in the Music as a Second Language program.
The students regularly attend two weekly rehearsals, and are offered the opportunity to participate in exciting events such as recording sessions and live events. “All of my time is for school and music,” says a smiling Godsoon, during a rehearsal.
Most recently, Haitian-American musician Alan Cavé joined the students for a live show. They performed together in a concert celebrating life through music.
Today, Olsen and Godsoon are determined to continue practicing music, and are already thinking about creating their own band.