The city of Santa Maria has launched a free after-school program for teens interested in learning in music. It’s another offering at the city’s community youth center.
Four days a week, from 3 to 8 p.m., local music teacher Joe Payne is leading group lessons in guitar, keyboard, drums and ukulele.
“Multiple acoustic guitars, hand drums known as 'cajons,' baritone ukuleles, and digital keyboards are available for students’ use,” according to Dennis Smitherman, who is currently serving as the city’s interim recreation services manager. “The program begins with teaching about the basics like chords and scales, and evolves into opportunities for collaborations via jam sessions that combine multiple instruments."
Students will also learn about music history and theory.
“We're giving kids the opportunity to just really put their own spin on how they like to learn—whether it be a small group or through jam sessions or just being free with other teens to experience music,” Smitherman said.
Smitherman said the city has been trying to establish a music program for the community for several years, and now it has come together. The recreation department has assembled an inventory of instruments, and all other materials are provided at no cost to the students. The city’s community youth center serves teens in grades seventh through twelfth.
“We offer quite a lot of activities—everything from sports competitions to art to gaming and a computer lab,” Smitherman said. “We have a tutor there every day after school to assist with homework...there's a myriad of activities and programs on an ongoing basis.”