Free Music lessons give foster kids a new groove

By: K-LOVE Closer Look – Felipe Aguilar/Marya Morgan

It’s been said that music is the world’s universal language, a powerful way to communicate emotions that can be too painful to speak. For some foster children tossed by parental abuse or neglect, learning to play a musical instrument is welcome relief.

Kids In A New Groove is dedicated to providing free weekly music lessons for foster children in central Texas. “Music is something that everyone can relate to and it’s such a powerful creative outlet for these kids,” says KING executive director Laura Wood. “They’re able to put the pain and the trauma that they’ve been through and put it into songs that they’re performing…they’re songwriting and being able to express themselves and learning how to do that in a healthy manner.”

Since 2009, the KING program has mentored more than 600 young musicians. For kids in foster care, a weekly commitment such as this offers crucial stability and security to their chaotic lives. Each student is paired with a specific mentor who meets with the child for regular instruction on the instrument of their choice. When they’re ready, they get a chance to perform public recitals for enthusiastic audiences.

Foster kids are usually shuffled from home to home to home within the system, so not only do KING music mentors commit for a minimum of one year, but they agree to go to the student. Wherever they are. The instructor’s determination to follow the budding musician from placement to placement speaks love and respect to a hurting child.

“Kids in foster care often aren’t looking to the future, they’re thinking, ‘how am I going to survive today?’…and through our program one of our main goals is to get them to look towards their future and think about what they want, what their dreams are, so we host different student workshops and music journaling and songwriting and music production, really getting them to think about the fact they can be a success.”

Statistics are typically grim for the academic success of foster children. In Texas alone, 30,000 children suffer in the system and not even half of will graduate from high school. KING students defy the statistic with 100% of their students earning diplomas in the last three years. “Music mentorship has played such an integral part into the success of each of our students,” says Wood. “It’s our job as an org to unlock that potential.”

Check out the entire podcast here.