A new music program opened up for kids in Tukwila in February that teaches kids how to play musical instruments free of cost.
Joe Williams is the director of the program, which is called Tukwila Kids Make Music. He said the program is funded by the Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila.
The program is held once a week at the church and is open to kids ages 6 to 13 years old. Williams said the music lessons that are offered are specifically keyboard piano classes.
The program has proven to be popular among community members.
“I want to say 30 kids in the program right now. We have a waitlist, so even if we’re not able to offer kids spots right away, whenever a kids drops we just call the next Tukwila kid and we’re actually expanding so we’re making more classes available to accommodate the needs,” Williams said.
A local mother, Bridgette Ryder, enrolled her 11-year-old son, Eison, in the music program to get him extra help as well as get him out of his comfort zone.
“This does give him extra help and something to go do, so I do look at it as quite a few positive things for him,” Ryder said. “I really like how this gives kids opportunities to do music classes where kids typically wouldn’t have opportunities.”
Ryder said there are not many musical options for kids in the Tukwila area, which is why she chose to put Eison in the class.
“In the Tukwila School District where we don’t have that much stuff like this, especially in K-5, this is an opportunity for those kids to get that sort of exposure to music lessons,” she said.
The program is so popular in fact, Williams said classes will continue out as long as there is funding.
He said more classes will be starting this month and will continue to do classes as long as there is funding.
Williams does more than just teach this program. He is also a concert pianist, a music educator and a behavioral therapist for autistic kids, but he said this program and teaching kids music is one of the things that he values the most.
”My favorite part about directing the program is probably watching curiosity manifest into talent and being apart of the whole process from square one, from the moment they walk into the door and they’ve never touched an instrument to the end of class when they actually play a song, mostly on their own with some help from some teachers, but reading music, learning good keyboard technique and being able to just empower themselves with music. It’s a gift that a lot of them haven’t had opportunities to enjoy because of access and we want to serve as many kids as possible in Tukwila,” Williams said.
Ryder said her son’s favorite part about the program is getting to play on the electric piano, but also getting to enjoy snack time.
Ryder said Williams has been a great teacher for her son and does a good job at keeping Eison focused.
“Jo is an amazing professional and these kids get to do this with him and it’s a positive, warm and welcoming environment,” she said. “He does a really great job keeping Eison on task and being positive and all that, so that’s good too.”