The Florida Orchestra and the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg have come together to give underserved children the gift of music this summer.
Ages 8 through 12 can learn to play violin at the YMCA Summer Music and Arts Camp, June 14-July 9 at the Child’s Park Y. The Y is also adding keyboard lessons, and visual arts classes, to the mix.
The program is free, and instruments will be provided.
“I think it was Einstein that said we as human beings spend our entire lives beating creativity out of ourselves as we get older,” said Mark Cantrell, CEO of The Florida Orchestra. “Creativity is a natural thing for kids. So the orchestra and the Y are getting together to do everything we can to foster that creativity. Which is growth.”
The pilot program sprung from a similar arrangement TFO has in Hillsborough County.
“All I know,” said Cantrell, who took the orchestra reins in 2020, “is I wanted to bring music into the lives of kids over here from right when I started. David Jezek, who’s the head of the Y here, and I have very similar views on things. It’s a really great relationship that we have; very symbiotic in a lot of ways.
“So we thought, why don’t we combine forces? They have the facilities that we can use, we have the expertise in teaching. We don’t know where it’s going to go, but at the end of the day the important thing is to get instruments in the hands of kids.”
Said Jezek, the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg’s president and CEO: “We have a captive audience. We’re already embedded in the community, and serving thousands and thousands of youth. And the strengths that we bring to the table, I believe, will allow us to do some really impactful things.
“And I believe we have the potential to grow this program … we’re very optimistic about the outlook.”
Jezek echoed Cantrell’s comment about the two organizations’ symbiotic relationship, likening it to the old TV commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!”
A win-win situation.
There’s a bigger picture, too, offered Cantrell:
“Governments and cities are cutting back school funding for the arts,” he said. “I understand it, but I don’t agree with it. I think it’s short-sighted.
“But at the end of the day, I feel orchestras and performing arts organizations have an obligation. If we want the impact of our organization to be realized, and to move forward, we have a responsibility to educate the next generations of music lovers and musicians.”
All details about the summer music camp are available here.