Sweet Music Across Palm Beach County

A handful of local organizations are stepping up to help kids foster artistic expression

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Kids in the Little Kids Rock program.

Long before Jason Newsted strapped on his bass and hit the stage with  Metallica, he played baritone saxo-phone in his junior high school marching band in Battle Creek, Michigan. “We had music in schools when we were kids, and I cannot imagine what it would have been like without it,” says the Jupiter resident. That’s why he became involved with Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting music education in schools, including Palm Beach County. Over the years, the Grammy Award–winner has supported the organization’s work by visiting schools, recording songs written by kids in the program, raising funds through the sale of his artwork, and hosting benefit concerts. “Jason’s unwavering passion for music education in our schools is a great example of how support from the community allows us to increase our impact and serve more kids,” says David Wish, founder and CEO of Little Kids Rock.

A volunteer teaches violin at the Boys & Girls
Clubs of Palm Beach County.

Several other organizations are bringing music opportunities to the kids in our
community—each in its unique way. Through programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, children can learn to play the violin, sing in the choir, and discover different cultural music traditions. “We’re giving students an opportunity not just to focus on their own heritage but also to learn about the people of the world,” says Casandra Tanenbaum, BGCPBC’s cultural arts coordinator. During the pandemic, BGCPBC has hosted a pair of virtual talent shows in the areas of song, dance, and other creative outlets. “It’s really important, now more than ever, for kids to be engaged in something they’re proud of,” says Tanenbaum.

A violinist performs at the Grace Notes Music Foundation Carousel Concert-thon.
Photo by Matthew Baran

As the founder of Jupiter Academy of Music, Sandra Baran has always believed in the power of music. Ten years ago, when one of her young piano students died tragically, she was among those who came together to create a music scholarship as a way to keep 5-year-old Makayla Joy Sitton’s memory alive. Today, the Jupiter resident is codirector of the Grace Notes Music Foundation, a nonprofit that administers scholarships that provide private music lessons to students in Palm Beach County. This year, 18 students and 4 merit scholars are studying music thanks to Grace Notes. The foundation also offers group music instruction to underserved youth, assists aspiring musicians who can’t afford to purchase an instrument, enables kids to experience the magic of a live musical performance at local venues, and offers grants so kids can attend summer music camps.

Kathi Kretzer with some of her students.

Another passionate local bringing music into children’s lives is Kathi Kretzer. Owner of Kretzer Piano from 1985 to 2018, she formed the Tequesta-based Kretzer Music Foundation in 2013 “to offer music to anyone who can’t afford it.” The foundation has donated pianos to more than 20 area organizations, such as Place of Hope, as well as keyboards to formerly homeless children at Adopt-A-Family and to Faith’s Place, an after-school program for inner-city children. Kretzer facilitates class lessons in schools and also offers individual instruction, in person and over Zoom, to children who have a donated keyboard or piano at home. “Music can change a child’s life,” she says. “It can give them confidence, coordination skills, and poise. And right now, with COVID, kids aren’t getting as much socialization—so music is even more critical.”

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