Helping musical kids hit the right financial notes

A few years ago, Jamie Halverson had a difficult choice to make. She wanted to enroll her son, Avery Sorenson, in piano lessons but they were too expensive.

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Avery Sorenson, age 8, says playing the piano makes him happy. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)

A few years ago, Jamie Halverson had a difficult choice to make. She wanted to enroll her son, Avery Sorenson, in piano lessons but they were too expensive.

"I've been a single mom for quite a few years, so when he wanted lessons, we had to make this big choice to figure out how to afford them," Halverson said. "As soon as he started showing an interest in music, I wanted to get him into lessons. I never learned how to really play and instrument as a child and I didn't want him to miss out."

The choice was between cable and Internet and music lessons for Avery. Together, the mother and son decided to pursue the music lessons. Three years later, Avery is about to compete in a state piano competition and Halverson couldn't be happier.

"It's been such a good sacrifice. Looking back now we're so thankful that we decided to do that," Halverson said.

That's why several music teachers and enthusiasts have banded together to form Noteworthy Kids. Noteworthy Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides need-based financial support for music lessons and instruction to children 18 and younger in the Twin Ports area. The group is still in the fundraising phase and hopes to have scholarships available in the fall.


"Outside of the schools, there are so few resources available and that are dedicated to providing free or reduced-cost musical instruction for children. Noteworthy Kids was created to fill that gap by providing financial assistance for qualifying youth who wish to learn an instrument and/or study voice," reads the nonprofit's mission statement.

Assistance comes in the form of scholarships for music lessons, providing access to instruments, financial assistance to participate in specialized musical clinics or activities and support to attend inspiring and educational concerts, seminars or classes.

"There's always been a need for assistance for families. And it's gotten to the point where it's just time to get things together to find the funds to help these kids get educated," said music teacher RaeAnn Hamlin.

Hamlin, owner of Hamlin Music and vice president of Noteworthy Kids, says she often gets phone calls from families that want their children to take music lessons but cannot afford them. She has taught music for 25 years and knows the struggle families go through. Extracurricular activities such as music lessons, despite their importance to the child's personal and academic development, are often cut when family budgets are tight.

"I don't always know the details, but I hear about other kids who want to take lessons ... but just don't have the money," Hamlin said.

The program will focus on giving students one-on-one lessons that are not always possible in public schools.

"The private lessons is where you get more serious study and attention on your instrument. There are less distractions and you can really reach out to your student more," said Randy Lee, president of Noteworthy Kids and Hermantown Middle School music instructor.

Though Halverson never learned to play an instrument, she did take voice lessons later as an adult and now she sings in a rock 'n' roll band called Wildwood. Wildwood and Halverson's son Avery are scheduled to play for a fundraiser for Noteworthy Kids on March 22.


"Make Music Matter for Noteworthy Kids" begins at 3 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m. at Clyde Iron Works. It features several local bands and music groups such as Maxi Childs Trio, Sterling Strings, Tom Cawcutt, Wood Blind, Randy Lee Ensemble and Todd Eckhart. The suggested donation is $15 for individuals and $25 for families.

Halverson says it's her way of making sure other kids like Avery get the chance to learn how to play music.

"That's the whole point of the program, making sure that kids that have interest or talent in a certain area aren't held back just because of money," Halverson said.

If you go

What: Make Music Matter for Noteworthy Kids fundraiser

When: 3-9 p.m. Sunday, March 22

Where: Clyde Iron Works, 2920 W. Michigan St.

Cost: Suggested donation $15 per person, $25 per family


Contact: Noteworthy Kids on Facebook


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