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Music & Youth Initiative brings music making, community to Charlestown

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  June 13, 2012 04:22 PM

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(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for

Teens listen to a song they have been working on at the Music & Youth Initiative's recently opened Charlestown Studio Clubhouse.

A small corner of the lower level of the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club was abuzz with music, laughter, and excited chatter late last month as teenage musicians celebrated the freshly painted cluster of rooms that now serve as the organization’s new music studio and clubhouse.

The space, which has previously served as a locker room and storage area, was recently transformed to a state-of-the-art recording studio for pre-teens and teens to explore their musical interests and creativity.

“We think music is such a great area to teach kids something while they’re having fun,” said Gary Eichhorn, executive director of Music & Youth Initiative, the Boston-based non-profit that develops and funds after-school music education and enrichment programs in underserved, urban communities.

Music-Teens-Charlestown-Rock-Band.JPG“What a great way to have fun and to build self confidence,” Eichhorn said at the official opening of the Charlestown Studio Clubhouse as musicians from 10 to 18 years old worked together to mix tracks, silently focused on computer screens making beats, and called on visitors to play the video game Rock Band with them.

The Charlestown Studio Clubhouse is the initiative’s 10th clubhouse in the Greater Boston Area and the third to open in a Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston branch. A studio clubhouse at the Chelsea Boys & Girls Club is currently in the works.

The clubhouses allow students from around the city to collaborate and receive formal instruction in lyric writing, beat making, vocals and audio and video production to make the music they want to hear.

Students also have opportunities to showcase their work at open mic nights, CD release parties and other venues.
“There’s something for everyone regardless of background because there’s something everyone can offer,” Devin Ferreira, the music director of the Charlestown program said in between fielding questions from his students and listening to their work with them.

youth-music-club-beats.JPG“I think everyone is a musician,” he said.

That welcoming approach to the program and the casual environment of the program helps students discover their interests and offers them a place to spend time after school--even if it is just to casually chat with a mentor or another adult.

“It’s a place where the kids can come a be themselves without fear of judgement, and get some sense of safety,” said Joan Eichhorn, co-founder of Music & Youth Initiative. “It’s a way for kids to realize their potential and life goals.”

For Stephen Beskalo, a Boston Arts Academy student and bassist for the club’s band, the new studio has given him an opportunity to pursue his interest that he would not have been able to do outside of school.

Beskalo and the other band members are not just learning the chords to other musician’s songs. They’ve been writing their own songs that they worked on and wrote together.

“We take something so short and turn it into a song,” Beskalo said proudly.

The band is still looking for a singer, and Beskalo said they are happy to grow and add performers, even if they do no know music.

“Anyone can join. We’ll teach them,” he said.

(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for

The Charlestown Studio Clubhouse band performs for family, friends, and supporters at the opening of the teen studio.

Twitter: @YourCharlestown

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