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Music school ‘a labor of love’
“We serve a predominantly minority community. They don’t see music lessons as vital, they see them as a luxury. They believe in focusing on sports and exercising and building up the body. But we need to give those kids brain power too. Music does that. Kids who take music lessons learn to be organized, they learn to stay on task,” explains Reeves.
The music school, which previously had roots in Sunrise where it shared a room with a dance studio for two years, opened in Lauderhill in the beginning of the year.
“This really is a high dimension of philanthropy and a labor of love for me,’’ says Reeves. “We are a private school but we hope to provide lessons to any child who wants them regardless of their parents’ income. I really believe I can make a difference with these kids. I want to be able to provide to the haves and the have-nots. If a child really wants to learn an instrument we want to be able to teach them without their parents worrying about the cost.’’
Reeves says he was offered that same opportunity with a scholarship that paid for his music lessons when he was a boy in his native Jamaica. “I got that great opportunity and it changed my life and I want to be able to give that chance to others,’’ says Reeves.
While Reeves tries to offer lessons to anyone who wants them, he has standards that must be met. “We have high morals and Christian values here,’’ says the musician and recording artist who is also a youth minister at the Living Word Open Bible Church in Cooper City. “Also, we don’t cut corners. The kids must learn to read music. Lots of people can play music by ear, but music is a language and they must learn it and understand it.’’
Each child goes through an application process that includes an assessment and as long as the child shows a desire and a passion for music Reeves is willing to help get that child into classes. About 75 percent of the center’s students pay full rates and about 25 percent pay reduced rates or are on a scholarship. The center has about 100 students, with most ranging in age from 4 to 15.
The music center is not Reeves’ only job. He works full time as an analyst for T Mobile. “I work from 5 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and then head here,’’ he says. His wife, Lois, also works full time as an assistant manager for a credit union and comes to the music center after work. She helps manage the center. The couple have three children, 19, 16 and 13, who all play instruments and the older two help teach the younger children. “I am very busy but I keep my family close by,’’ says Reeves. “We work together as a family and so we see a lot of each other despite the busy schedules.’’
Reeves — who plays the saxophone, flute, guitar, drums and keyboards — has a bachelor of arts degree in hospitality and a minor in music. He also attended a performing arts high school in Jamaica. He is currently working on a theology degree and hopes to have his BA by June 2012.
The center has 9 staff members who are all part-timers. There are five teachers —- two have music degrees and the others are seasoned musicians. “We even have a couple of older teens who help teach the younger ones in exchange for free lessons. Many of them are seasoned players but they need to improve their ability to read music,’’ says Reeves.
William Powell, 19, a senior at Plantation High School, is one of those teens. He is at the center every Saturday helping the younger kids. “I learn more while I help the younger kids and I also am learning a lot more with the lessons I get,’’ says Powell who has been playing guitar for 5 years and even plays in a band, PawnShop 45.
Saturday is the busiest time at the center because it’s when most of its students come for lessons. The after-school care program has just begun and includes music lessons and homework time until 7 p.m. Most students go for lessons an average of twice a week, but there is no limit on how many times one can show up to learn, says Reeves.
The center is not just for kids though; anyone can take music lessons there. In fact, there are a few seniors who take lessons on weekday mornings.
The school also doesn’t limit its music to the center’s four walls. It takes its show on the road by often doing performances for nursing homes.
When asked if he ever sees himself working at the school full time, Reeves says: “It would be great to be here full time. But what is important to me is to give back and make a difference in some of these kids’ lives. Right now, to do that I have to keep my full-time job.’’
Prestige will be offering a summer camp program that starts on June 13 and runs through Aug. 12. The camp will be focused on music lessons but the kids will get to play video games, visit the park across the street for lots of exercise and go on field trips.
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(954) 990 7460
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Prestige Music Center. 7292 W. Oakland Park Blvd, Lauderhill, FL 33313
Phone: (954) 990 7460. Email: email@example.com