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Phoenix-area program changing young lives through music

Harmony Project photo

A local project is instilling work ethic, companionship and confidence in children…through music.

It’s called Harmony Project Phoenix. After school and during the summer, about 100 students between kindergarten and eighth grade take part in about six hours of rehearsal a week to prepare for a monthly concert.

Rehearsals are held at the Downtown Phoenix Salvation Army location and schools around Phoenix. The program provides music lessons and instruments free of charge to kids who may have never even picked up a trumpet, flute or violin before.

“Music is a way to transcend material poverty,” said Diogo Pereira, program director of Harmony Project Phoenix. “All our kids here are very rich spiritually and culturally.”

Just a year ago the program had 26 students. Now with that number totaling over 100, Pereira hopes to have around 150 students in the program by the end of the year.

One of the students currently enjoying the program is 10-year-old Donna Thomas, who plays the trumpet. She started a year ago and said she has improved greatly in that time.

“When I started practicing more I got better and better, and I felt really good about myself,” Thomas said.

The program currently has 15 teaching positions and six volunteer teachers as well. Students play brass, woodwind and string instruments, all coming together for their monthly concerts. Recently, the Harmony Project added a Mariachi Band as well.

“I’ve been explaining to the kids that they have full potential,” Pereira said. “Our goal is to see them going on to colleges.”

Parents do volunteer their time so the students can participate in the program. Terron Craig with the Salvation Army is one of the instructors. He said the kids have really bonded and come together during rehearsals and concerts.

“It’s really been fun to watch, to see them go from total strangers to being completely united in playing and doing music,” Craig said.

Pereira said they appreciate volunteers and donations, whether they be monetary or the donation of instruments. He said funding is needed to continue to expand the program.

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