Franklin County Commission Funds Summer Music Lessons.

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Franklin County Commissioners spend most of their $314,000,000 General Fund budget on justice and public safety. But, they also provide $28,000 for free lesson on piano, guitar and other stringed instruments for children in low-income families.

Its late afternoon at Hughes Hall on the Ohio State University campus. Music teacher, Youmee Kim sits at a piano at the head of the classroom. Half-dozen studio pianos are lined up on well-worn tiled floors. On the walls, green chalk boards are ready for sharps and flats. Kim is ready for the first lesson of the summer.

Kim is a piano teacher at the Jefferson Academy of Music at the Ohio State University.

“We are going to learn how to play the piano and we will talk about the finger numbers first of all. Everybody raise your hands.” She tells the students.

While Kim teaches the children how to play, parents are seen checking their children into various music lessons. Through the county-funded, Lois Cole, and other parents get free lessons. Cole has two children enrolled and she is grateful for the program.

“As a parent it gives my kids a chance to learn about the piano, which is what their taking. And, since we are going through tough times it gives me a chance to do it without paying the financial burden.”

The program started in 2006. Commissioners contracted Jefferson Academy at the School of Music to provide free piano, strings, and guitar lessons for children ages 6 to 17. But, families must qualify and it’s limited to certain income levels. Even though the county budget is tight, Commissioner Paula Brooks says the expenditure is worthwhile.

“During the school year parents have peace of mind while their children are at school. But in the summertime, sometimes it’s tough to know what your children are doing, are they on the streets? Are they home alone? This is a great way to keep them busy, to keep them learning and to keep them safe. Kids that excel in music, excel in math, and in reading. That’s the other kind of hidden agenda that we have as county commissioners.” Says Brooks.

But for Ross Galpin, the father of two sons, the program does more than occupy his children’s time. It feeds a dream.

“Well it gives me a chance to let my kids take music lessons and learn about music really. Maybe both of them being on American Idol, i don’t know, just being able to play the guitar really, really good.” Says Galpin.

Tian Jackson also has a son in the summer program and she makes the time to bring him to lessons.

“My son loves instruments and he loves music. And so, when I found out about this I was really excited about it. It’s a sacrifice but I’m willing to make one for my son.” Says Jackson.

Commissioner Brooks says while the program helps parents and students, it also addresses some of the county’s other priorities.

“We also wanted to make sure that we had some special emphasis in some of our programs for gifted students and I know that Jefferson at OSU kind of looks at these students and tries to make a determination on, you know, do we have future enrollees at the OSU School of Music. So, that’s why we are doing it even in rough economic times. We have to do it. Our kids are our future.” Says Brooks.

Elizabeth Akinkuolie, WOSU News.

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