Difference Makers: Westchester non-profit spreads joy with free virtual music lessons for kids

By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Kids are desperate for things to keep them occupied during the pandemic, and a Westchester music school is making sure they at least have a song in their heart.

Matt Irving, 16, is a volunteer with the non-profit music school, Songcatchers Inc. He's been giving virtual guitar lessons free of charge and teaching what he knows to a group of younger musicians.

"I'm trying to pass on what I wish I knew about guitar when I was starting out. I'm trying to pass it on to them," Irving said.

Kathleen McEntee-Lawlor, executive director of Songcatchers, tells WCBS 880's Mike Sugerman, “We want to children to be able to have the opportunity to experience the joy and the beauty of music, and the arts, and to appreciate the world around them."

Songcatchers has been around for almost 40 years in New Rochelle, which was the epicenter of the COVID outbreak in the early days of the pandemic.

The group had to adjust early.

"A lot of our families have been hit hard by the pandemic, and we are aware of that and are sensitive to that, but we wanted to continue to provide musical lessons for them and for the kids because music is so very much needed right now," said McEntee-Lawlor.

They’ve also donated food, gift cards and even helped families with Christmas, but it’s the virtual lessons they have had to start that may bring the most to kids who have had so little else to do these days.

“I feel happy that they are progressing and they may start to feel joy from playing like I have,” said Irving.

“It is just such a wonderful outlet for expression,” says McEntee-Lawlor.

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