The Bahama Village Music Program is now in our 12th year of giving free musical education and instruction to children aged 6 to 16 in our community. BVMP is more than just an educational institution, our program creates a great sense of community spirit and pride, fosters important mentor relationships between local teenage musicians and their students, encourages parent participation, and enhances student’s self-esteem. Our target community, Bahama Village, is rich in cultural history and community involvement, inspiring our students to become not only better musicians, but also better human beings. Bahama Village Music Program’s mission is to provide quality music education to children who would otherwise not have access to private music instruction.
The Bahama Village Music Program was created in 1999 to honor Ellen Sanchez, a beloved music teacher in Bahama Village whose retirement left a void in the community. A teacher for over fifty years, Mrs. Sanchez, who passed away in 2008 at 105 years old, brought music to countless children in this minority neighborhood. The Program’s founder, Robin Kaplan, utilized the momentum of Mrs. Sanchez’ stewardship to establish the Bahama Village Music Program. From modest beginnings in the closet of a school gym, the Program now resides in the Frederick Douglass Band Room, a refurbished historic building owned by the City and located in the heart of Bahama Village. This fabulous space is provided to Bahama Village Music Program by the City of Key West at no charge to the music program.
Bahama Village Music Program offers individualized lessons in piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, and percussion at absolutely no cost to the students. BVMP also offers group rehearsals for steel pan, choir and praise dance. These groups foster diverse team relationships between students who otherwise would not get to know one another. Our “House of Pan” steel pan band performs regularly around town at local events, including "Goombay," a street fair celebrating the local culture and customs in Bahama Village.
Our 170 enrolled students receive lessons by our 15 student teachers, professional instructors and dedicated volunteers. Bahama Village Music Program’s student teachers are musically gifted high school students, many of whom honed their musical ability at BVMP. Our young staff inspires our younger students to practice their instrument daily, with the goal of being as musical as their teenage teacher. The student teachers also foster mentor like relationships with their students, some which last through college and beyond. This unique aspect of the music program enables the students to connect with each other through their shared love of music.
Our increase in student enrollment has enabled Bahama Village Music Program to expand into the area schools. BVMP recently partnered with 21st Century after school grant program to offer steel pan classes at Gerald Adams Elementary School, located just outside of Key West. This expansion has allowed BVMP to increase its steel pan enrollment from 20 students a week to over 60 students. Bahama Village Music Program is able to provide over 200 lessons a week, giving the gift of music to over 170 local underprivileged youth. Throughout the 38 week school year BVMP provides over 7,500 free music lessons.
Bahama Village Music Program is also dedicated to giving the gift of music back to the community, through several free recitals and concerts throughout the school year. Our most recent recital was attended by over 50 local music lovers, some of whom were moved to tears at the dedication and pure musical ability of our students. Videos of this recital can be viewed on our Facebook page. The "House of Pan" steel pan band recently performed at a fundraiser for another local non-profit. These concerts serve to showcase the teacher's dedication and the students musical talent and have an added benefit of bringing unity and joy to our community.
The Bahama Village Music Program was recently accepted into the Berklee City Music Network, a network of music education non-profits across the country. Berklee’s prestigious reputation and standards prove that the Bahama Village Music Program is well on it’s way to being a premier music education facility. Belonging to the Berklee City Music Network offers the Bahama Village Music Program access to Berklee’s PULSE method, a music education website directly connected to Berklee’s music curriculum. This gives BVMP students an ultimate advantage, as they will be learning college level music theory right here in Key West. This wonderful opportunity comes with its own costs, including upgrading our computer lab and increased insurance. The program also offers full tuition scholarships to a few selected BVMP high school students to Berklee's 5 week summer program.
The bulk of our funding comes from parent and Board sponsored initiatives including the sales of our two cookbooks of favorite family recipes, and hosting golfing and dinner-dance fundraisers. Our most recent fundraiser, "A Day Filled with Music," brought together over 20 local musicians to raise money for the program. We have also received support from the Florida State Division of Cultural Affairs, Jimmy Buffett’s Parrothead Charities, and the World Sailfish Championship. The volunteer Board of Directors consists of a broad representative of civic-minded individuals, who donate significant resources and other services to keep the Program moving forward.
These children need a nurturing after school environment to expand their musical ability. To sustain the Bahama Village Music Program, now in its 12th year of operation, we are in search of an annual sponsorship that would help us fund the program costs, as we strive to meet the growing needs of our students.
Your support would be greatly appreciated and will help to ensure our continued success and cultural benefits for those who otherwise would not be able to enjoy the rewards that accrue with the addition of music and dance to each young person's life. Help us continue to give the gift of music to these wonderful students. Every child deserves the opportunity to experience the joy of music.