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November 7, 2012

Instrument drive brings music to kids in need

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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Students from AIM High School in Whitmore Lake create music on Apple computers under the instruction of Carrick Secorski at Axis Music Academy in Southfield.

BIRMINGHAM — The season of giving is upon us, and two local nonprofits are hoping that some generous residents will consider giving the gift of music this holiday.

Axis Music Academy and Wish Upon a Teen have teamed up to collect musical instruments of all kinds — along with iPods, iPads, computers and more — to support music education for children in need around metro Detroit. The instruments collected during the drive will be put to good use by students involved in the academy’s nonprofit programs for low-income children, as well as by students with disabilities such as autism.

The academy’s efforts to bring cost-free music instruction to autistic kids began earlier this spring, when Axis introduced its All Axis Music Tech class. The eager students were taught how to create rock music on computers, and according to Axis Marketing Director Andrea George, the students quickly impressed the teaching staff with how quickly they were able to master the music software.

“In two days these kids were creating some killer music. Not only were they creating music, but we had kids writing lyrics side by side with those making it. It was absolutely incredible,” she said.

From there, Axis continued to expand the music tech class by enlisting the help of Wish Upon a Teen, a nonprofit that seeks to help teens that have experienced life-altering events, from illness to foster care to mental or physical disabilities.

As the program continued, both organizations quickly learned that the tech class wasn’t enough for many of the students — they wanted to be able to play the instruments they were writing music for, and they wanted to perform live.

“They want to learn drums, they want to learn guitars, they want to learn saxophones,” said George. “They’re highly intelligent, and they’re grasping everything and implementing it right there on the spot.”

From now through Jan. 25, 2013, Axis and Wish Upon a Teen will be collecting instruments for the students to use during instruction. To sweeten the deal, George said that for every item donated, generous givers will be able to choose from a selection of gifts provided by a number of sponsors, including restaurant gift certificates and tickets to see the Detroit Pistons play at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

More than 40 autistic teens participate in the music program, according to Michelle Soto, founder of Wish Upon a Teen, with students coming from as far away as Ann Arbor to get their groove on at Axis. If the instrument drive is a success, she said, the two organizations will be able to grow the program to reach even more students and make classes available in more cities. Soto said Wish Upon a Teen is always open to inviting more teens to join its many classes, programs and events, including the music classes.

“(Interested parents) can go to our website. We make it super easy. They can just register their son or daughter online,” she said. “All of our classes are always 100 percent free, and it’s just on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage them to sign up for as many classes as they like. We never limit them. That’s how they get to build friendships and socialization.”

All music or technology items donated are fully tax-deductible and can be dropped off at Axis Music Academy locations in Southfield, Birmingham and Canton. Donation pickups can also be arranged. For more information, visit www.AxisMusic.com or www.WishUponATeen.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.