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From garage band to the arena, Youth Music Project makes it big

by: VERN UYETAKE - Bucky Brand practices his drumming skills on Nov. 13 at Youth Music Project. Whether your kid beats on his traps, smashes her ax or pounds on the 88, they all are sure to find haven at Youth Music Project in West Linn. And soon, even more kids will have room to learn to rock.

The nonprofit teaches drums, guitar and piano to students primarily in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, but also attracts students from Lake Oswego, Oregon City and Tualatin.

Funded by the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, Youth Music Project aims to bring pop, rock and country music to all students.by: VERN UYETAKE - Intern Cammille Denny helps Bucky Brand learn to rock out while playing the drums.

Youth Music Project launched in January with overwhelming success. All of its summer classes sold out, and this fall more than 240 kids are participating in private lessons and group classes, which means they are bursting at the seams at the current location on Willamette Falls Drive.

Building on that success and wanting to create even more future rock stars, Youth Music Project is looking to move across the street to the former Willamette Falls Christian Church at Willamette Falls Drive and 10th Street. The 12,385-square-foot space is currently being used by a call center that is moving to Wilsonville. There, the organization could accommodate up to 1,000 kids a week, according to Youth Music Project Executive Director Charles Lewis.

The future location is planned to offer youth music instruction, group lessons, private lessons, bands and day camps in 20 classrooms. There will also be a store selling musical by: VERN UYETAKE - Instructor Monica Metzler and intern Michael Wiest lead a guitar class on Nov. 20.accessories, a waiting area for adults and a coffee shop.

Lewis said Youth Music Project hopes to also partner with other community groups to use the space, such as dance groups.

“The hope is that it is a music-based community center,” Lewis said, adding that the space could be used for performances in the evening for concerts and open mic nights by the community.

Youth Music Project is working with Iselin Architects on the design. Though the church was built in 1961, the group hopes to give the building some of the historic charm of Willamette Falls Drive. Youth Music Project is also applying for a grant through the county to help restore the front on the church.

“That’s real important to us,” Lewis said.

The plans include transforming the sanctuary into a topnotch performance hall, complete with acoustics, lighting, video cameras and a moveable stage.by: VERN UYETAKE - Piano instructor Caroline Doctor helps Alex Aghdaei with his fingering technique at Youth Music Project.

“The overall goal is to make music accessible for every kid in the region,” Lewis said. The project gives free lessons and rentals to students on the free lunch program and a 75 percent discount for those on the reduced-price lunch program.

“That’s a neat opportunity we have,” Lewis said. “I think we’ll be filling a real critical need out there.”

On top of its current administrative staff of three and seven instructors, the project also offers paid internships for high school students.

Youth Music Project currently has a conditional use application in with the city that is required to address the mix of uses within the building. Lewis said they hope to move into the new building by early 2013.

For more information about Youth Music Project, visit http://youthmusicproject.org.



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