Monday, February 25, 2008

Five for Rashawn

Rashawn slid up to us on his skateboard as we unloaded for the benefit concert at Cave9. He's 9 years old and full of energy. Aaron says Rashawn spends a lot of time at Cave9, so we were not surprised when he was the first person to take us up on our offer of free music lessons. He stayed for the entire open house, thoughtfully absorbing drum and piano lessons with an occasional exuberant improvisation. And frequent skateboarding breaks. He repeatedly mentioned a desire for an MP3 player, so I finally negotiated a deal. If he brought 5 more students the next weekend, I myself would buy him an MP3 player. He left with a bag of grapes and a mission.

On Friday Rashawn arrived as the door was unlocked. I showed him the promised blue MP3 player. He had doubted me, so he was excited--and disappointed that he hadn't done more recruiting. He said the children in his neighborhood aren't allowed to go to Cave9. Rashawn eagerly sat for lessons with Jon, Darnell, and Lauren. During the skateboard breaks, he asked to see the MP3 player again and we debated the value of the various features. Finally, Rashawn's mom arrived with a friend, Alliyah, who is 12. Alliyah was just as eager as Rashawn to learn how to play a rock beat on the drum set and the musical alphabet on the piano. One down for Rashawn. I loved the intent concentration on the faces of both children. No video game could have absorbed them more.

Saturday Rashawn skated along with Aaron as he came to unlock Cave9. Alliyah soon arrived. Rashawn's mother declared her intention to take some lessons. And two young men joined the group as they listened to and discussed different kinds of music. 4 for Rashawn. I had to leave for the orchestra's dress rehearsal but told Rashawn that if one more person came, he could have the MP3 player.

Towards the end of the afternoon, Lauren called with a report on Cave9. She was thrilled. Alliyah had done so well with the piano that she ran home and returned with an audience. Her mom and uncle listened and were very excited about what we were offering: music lessons, caring teachers, a safe place to hang out. They promised to talk to their neighbors. Alliyah's little sister decided to try out the piano. 5 for Rashawn. I gather he was pleased to have the longed-for MP3 player in his hands. I can't wait to see him next Friday at Cave9 and hear his product review. And I hope we've overcome the misgivings of the neighborhood so that Rashawn won't be the only child watching for the door to open at Cave9.

Five for Rashawn is one major step for Scrollworks and the benefits to the community will multiply.

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