HapCO, boys and girls club partner to offer kids vocal lessons

Thanks to a partnership between HapCO Music Foundation, Live Music Tutor and sponsor Randy June, 15 kids at the West Orange Boys and Girls Clubs are taking virtual voice lessons.

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  • | 2:02 p.m. October 19, 2016
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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WINTER GARDEN At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida West Orange Branch, a chorus of small voices can now sing along with a vocal instructor based near Virginia.

Thanks to a partnership between HapCO Music Foundation, Live Music Tutor and sponsor Randy June, 15 children ages 8 to 10 are receiving free voice lessons from the comfort of the Orlando Magic Center in Winter Garden.

Live Music Tutor is an online network base that links music instructors with students all over the world. Students can choose from thousands of teachers and learn virtually any instrument remotely. 

“It’s like Skype on steroids,” said Joseph McMullen, president and CEO of HapCO, which works to support educational arts programs. “They do vocal classes, instruments, they do it all as it relates to having music classes being produced in real time. They have instruction form all over the country and you sign up on the portal, whether its group or individual classes.”

Often, students don’t have access to the music and arts classes they desire because of a lack of teachers in their area or lack of transportation to get to them. McMullen, an avid proponent for arts and music education for youth, saw the opportunity to bridge this gap using LMT. 

Each Friday evening for six weeks, those 15 kids will meet for an hour at the Boys and Girls Club to receive live vocal lessons from an instructor through LMT.

“This is our way of infusing more art into our community, and there’s no barrier other than having a computer with a webcam in order to participate in those classes,” McMullen said. “Our goal is to infuse more art access, and we’ll eventually expand to instruments, based on desire and ability to acquire instruments.”

With some virtual-based music lessons, students get a pre-taped video of the lesson, but with LMT, the kids in West Orange get to interact with their instructor, and she is able to get to know them.

“It’s very rewarding, and the thing is it helps us meet our overall goal of increasing access to the arts without any geographical barriers,” he said. “I’m super excited we’re able to meet our goals and I don’t even have to have a live person come to the facility. It’s all about bridging the gaps.”

Ted Gee, co-founder and president of LMT, visited the kids in class Friday, Oct. 14, and was impressed with their enthusiasm.

“The center director, Nicco Palmaero, and Joseph (McMullen) are dong a lot of work for the kids in the community, and I think this provides an opportunity that some of the kids may or may not have access to, being able to provide the opportunity for them to participate,” Gee said. “They not only learn music but some of the benefits of music with cognitive skills, social skills and education skills that will supplement their current education curricula.”

Student Aniyah Rutland, 7, said she looks forward to her weekly singing lesson.

“Mr. Nicco told me that we were starting a music lesson and I said, ‘Oh, I like music and singing,’ so I signed up for it,” she said. 

Although the class is free for the kids, HapCO is looking for help from the community to be able to continue offering them and expanding availability. LMT gave a discount, and June is helping, but HapCO will continue to fundraise to offset the cost.

“Our goal is to raise as much funds as possible to be able to offer these classes whenever a community organization cannot afford it,” McMullen said. “I ask anyone to come alongside and help us help more kids have access to the arts. The kids understand they have to be disciplined, they have to listen and be part of the process.”


Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected]


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