Every Tuesday afternoon, the sounds of trumpets and trombones echo down the busy hallways of The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. For Anaya Moore, 11, and her fellow brass players from nearby Songhai Elementary Learning Institute, Tuesdays are the best day of the week.
“Most nights after school, I just go home and help my mom with my sisters,” said Anaya, who is the oldest of six girls, the youngest of whom is almost 2. “I babysit a lot because my mom works late and is taking classes online to become a lawyer. Music lessons are a way that I can do something I love, for myself.”
The Salvation Army has offered after-school music education classes at Songhai, and several other nearby schools in the West Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods of Chicago, for nearly six years.
Anaya has come to the Kroc Center for music lessons since the opening of the facility in June of 2012; before that, The Salvation Army taught Anaya at her school.
Debra Hester, Special Education Classroom Assistant at Songhai, escorts more than 15 children to the Kroc Center each week for a variety of music lessons, including coronet, trombone and percussion. Debra has seen what a difference The Salvation Army’s music programs have made in all of her students.
“I was so attracted to our partnership with The Salvation Army because I just loved the way they took the initiative with their music programs,” said Debra. “The growth we see in our students’ personality and confidence is truly amazing. It’s like you turned on a bright light and they just shine.”
Debra says Anaya’s light is especially bright thanks to The Salvation Army. “Anaya has a very mature personality,” says Debra. “Before her music lessons begin, she runs home and makes sure that all of her sisters are home and safe. She’s always been a bright student, who has stayed truly committed to her love of music.”
Anaya’s grades have improved since she started taking music lessons with The Salvation Army, and she is currently on the honor roll at Songhai.
Songhai is on the list of Chicago Public Schools up for possible closure. It remains to be seen which school Anaya and her band mates will attend in the fall, but Debra says the chances of that school having a fine arts program aren’t good. Which is why the music education that The Salvation Army provides at Corps Community Centers and in schools across Chicago is so pivotal.
This spring, Anaya’s mom will have a front row seat as Anaya performs with hundreds of other Salvation Army music students from across Chicagoland at the ‘Let the Music Begin’ concert on May 18. More than 13,500 children receive music training through Salvation Army Metropolitan Division programs each year.