At a Starbucks halfway from each of our respective homes, A-list Nashville Producer Richard Aspinwall and I share what God’s doing in our lives and in South Florida through the Miami Music Life, an organization Aspinwall founded 13 years ago.
As we sip coffee and enjoy the background music selections, including Miles Davis’ unmistakable “So What,” from his album “Kind of Blue,” Richard tells me how he and his wife, Heidi, the national director for volunteers for Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR), started the Life .
The Aspinwalls came to Miami, Fla., from Nashville, Tenn., to establish a place for youth from all social, economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to have their musical interests and gifts nurtured while pointing them toward a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.
Since then, God has brought countless youth to the Miami Music Life . For just $1 a lesson, kids from 8 to 18 years old are paired with a skilled musician and receive 30 minutes of individual instruction in their instrument of choice. Students can choose from voice, guitar, bass, drums and percussion, piano and organ.
Kids come from across Miami-Dade County and all different churches throughout the community.
For those dealing with financial hardship, “the Life will make every effort to provide students who cannot afford their own instruments with loaned instruments [or] other music materials for free,” according to MiamiMusicMinistries.com.
According to their Web site, “The Community Music School is an innovative approach to the transformation of young lives through private music instruction, high levels of expectation, evaluation and the development of personal relationships between students and instructors.”
The $1 fee for each lesson is a way of introducing responsibility to each student. Kids become stakeholders as they invest in their musical education. Obviously, the Life is about God – not material wealth or so-called “success.” The teachers, most of whom have gone through the music school themselves, are now models of servant leadership who mentor each student in the areas of music, discipleship and community.
Spiritually, students are prayerfully nurtured to offer up their gifts and talents to God for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus Christ is the first priority.
At the Miami Music Life, it’s not about going somewhere and being told you’re going to be a great musician, but rather, it’s about learning to devote yourself (and your craft) to the glory and greatness of God Almighty. In the beginning, the younger students may not grasp this radical concept, but they’re taught by their teachers who model the Life ‘s ethos.
As the students demonstrate proficiency, they are grouped into bands. Here, they learn to perform in community and listen to each other.
On Aug. 29, the new Miami Music Life year will begin. Each Saturday, from 1–5 p.m., students meet with their individual teachers. Along with the one-on-one instruction, all students are taught to read music and music theory in a classroom setting.
The program follows the Miami-Dade County Public Schools school year calendar, including breaks and holidays. The music school commences on the Saturday after Miami-Dade County Public Schools open. Consequently, the music school ends the year on the Saturday before public schools close for the summer.
For more information, parents, guardians and church communities can call 305-479-6132 or visit www.MiamiMusicMinistries.com.