03 November 2010
Younger members of Studio Heat performing at the release party for the Music Clubhouse's second CD, "Because of You"
This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
Twenty-five-year-old Rick Aggeler says he discovered early in life that music is magic.
RICK AGGELER: "Music made me feel like anything was possible."
At the age of seven, a medical condition required him to have a brain operation. It also prevented him from playing sports. So his mother suggested that he learn to play drums instead.
RICK AGGELER: "I started playing drums with Ronit Glick. She was my elementary teacher. I remember just the joy it brought to me. It was my favorite thing. Sixth grade was a new school to me and I had a hard time kind of getting along with all the kids. And Ms. Glick just took me in and I had so much fun at the program. It just felt great all the time."
Rick Aggeler graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, in two thousand seven. While there, he volunteered as a music teacher at a youth center in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.
He helped create a small music club within the center. The Music Clubhouse at the Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club quickly grew.
Young people come to the Music Clubhouse after school and during summer break. The club provides a safe environment to learn to play instruments and to perform together in bands. The club even has its own recording studio.
The club has released two albums. "Super Hero" is one of the songs from the second album, "Because of You."
Fourteen-year-old Javon Martin performs under the name Yung Fresh. He joined the Music Clubhouse three years ago.
Yung Fresh in the studio, recording his own songs
YUNG FRESH: "It has impacted my life in a big way because I never thought I would be doing this. We now give shows. I'm on the radio. People are actually starting to see me as like an artist."
(MUSIC: “Blue Hill Shuffle”)
Ten-year-old Akheylah Hunter joined the club last year but did not play an instrument. Now, she plays piano and sings in a band. What she likes best, she says, is performing.
AKHEYLAH HUNTER: "We performed in different places like at Berklee College of Music. We go on trips, like we went to the House of Blues and we went on stage and we performed, and it was very fun."
The Music Clubhouse opened three years ago and has served almost five hundred young people. Rick Aggeler says preparing and performing is good for them.
RICK AGGELER: "I can see what it does for them, and it just develops confidence. It's also an escape. A big problem we have in the neighborhood is obviously gangs, and family dynamics. And we have a lot of challenges. We can have those conversations and then they can write, too. They can rap about it and kind of let it out a little bit."
Rick Aggeler says he is happy but not surprised by the results of the Music Clubhouse at the Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club.
RICK AGGELER: "As much fun as I do have drumming and performing live, it's definitely more rewarding and more fun, watching these kids grow up and develop."
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report. I'm Steve Ember.
Contributing: Faiza Elmasry and Lawan Davis