An air of optimism and learning was alive and thriving at Third Baptist Church on Thursday, November 8 as SFCM joined community partners to launch Bridge to Arts and Music (BAM), a new after-school program that provides music instruction for local San Francisco youth. The event marked the first public gathering of representatives from SFCM, Third Baptist Church, Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco Interfaith Council, Koret Foundation, Yamaha Music, and Music Exchange since the program’s first classes began this fall.
With an initial cohort of 32 students ranging in age from 6 to 12—the program is open to high school students, as well—BAM promises a musical and educational outlet multiple times per week, focusing on voice and piano skills in both private and group lessons.
“The opportunity to put music back into a community and to inspire children to engage music is why we exist,” remarked SFCM President David H. Stull. “Those of us from different faiths who come together recognize that the faith in our humanity what matters most and the faith in our community is what matters most, and the more we can teach that to our children through cooperative programs the better our world will be.”
With the generous donation of 16 keyboards from Yamaha and Music Exchange, along with the absence of a fee for participants—thanks to a grant from the Koret Foundation—Bridge to Arts and Music removes any barrier of entry for a child wishing to partake of the program’s offerings.
The Koret Foundation, which actively supports community programs in the Bay Area, became immediately interested in the program after talking with SFCM representatives.
“At Koret, we believe that the arts are part of a well-rounded education,” said Koret Foundation Program Manager Kyle Marinshaw. “When we began conversations with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music … it immediately became clear that they would be a natural partner in helping us realize our goals for this initiative.”
It wasn’t only the institutional representatives who spoke at the event, either. BAM student Joshua Peterson conveyed pride and thanks in a short speech given to attendees.
“This program means to me an opportunity to grow in my love for music,” said Peterson. “Music is important in my life because I go places when I hear or play music. [My teachers] have different approaches that help me to improve and add character to my playing.”
Rev. James Smith, BAM program manager and instructor, was clearly moved by the event, commenting on his aspirations for the program.
“This program is offering me an opportunity to fulfill a call in my life, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with your children,” remarked Smith, speaking to the parents and community members in attendance. As he asked BAM children to stand in recognition, all in the room saw how far-reaching this program was already.
With performances by SFCM mentors Breanna Miller ’19 and Wilford Kelly ’20, as well as the Amos Brown Chorale, the launch event lived up to being a celebration of community, education, and music.