Free music lessons after school

Daniela Laborinho Schwartz

The Redwood music department sponsored free after school music lessons to students from October through November for the fourth consecutive year.  

Miranda Overson practices bass with a professional instructor,
Miranda Overson practices bass with a professional instructor,

Thanks to financing from the Music Boosters, a parent fundraising group, the music department has been able to hire professional musicians to teach students through hour-long lessons in guitar, trumpet and other instruments.

“Some of the kids in the program are experimenting with a new instrument or just trying to get better at the one they are usually playing,” said John Mattern, director of Redwood’s music department.

According to Mattern, groups of students ranging from one to 15 have shown up to take advantage of the opportunity.  

Freshman Sylvie Cox said that the chance to try a new instrument for a day was very appealing.

“I had never thought about learning bass.  I didn’t want to pay for lessons, even though I always thought it was cool,” Cox said. “The after school lessons are kind of like a temporary tattoo––you can just try it out.”

Much of the funding for the lessons came from proceeds from last year’s “Night of Blues,” an annual fundraiser that features performances from intermediate and advanced musicians.  During the event, parents donated to the Boosters foundation, and a third of the money raised went toward funding the after-school lessons.

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According to Mattern, students taking lessons learn chords, scales, and songs, depending on the teacher. The guitar lessons are the most popular, though many students have shown interest in saxophone lessons, too, Mattern said.  About 50 students have taken lessons, as of press time.

Although the lessons are most popular with beginners, there are many intermediate musicians also taking lessons, Mattern noted.  

Freshman Miranda Overson, who participated in a bass lesson with Cox, has played bass for a little over a year, but said she found the free lessons useful for improving her playing.  

“It really helps to get a different opinion on my playing from another teacher,” Overson said.  

Mattern sees these lessons as a chance for students to expand their musical horizons.

“It’s a non-required thing, but it’s really there for anyone who wants to show up, and it’s been great because it really does spur kids into ‘Hey that really helped me, I want to take private lessons,’” Mattern said.