“Major Chords offers a free and safe space for music programming. It’s a community inside of a community. Once a child gets in here, they become friends with other kids. The families become friends. We see the mothers and fathers, grandparents, where they get together and are doing things outside of sessions together. We’re talking white, Hispanic, Black; the array of colors throughout this community that it’s always been.
We are patient with them on their learning of that music and it’s a nurturing time kids are starving for. I would say probably 3,000 kids if you count their friends and relatives that tag along and come and congregate in the art room have come through our doors.
This is the coolest thing that I’ve ever seen in my life for children. Sports are great, but whether it’s a piano, a keyboard or a drum set, what an instrument gives a child is different. What music gives these kids is the fastest form of therapy that we’ve ever seen with children. I’ve been with kids who are struggling and I’ve seen how it helps them throughout various points in their lives.
The people and the groups who have supported us over the last ten years have helped kids through whatever they’re going through, all through music. We’ve had support from Liza, Courtney and Chelsea, our kids.
But we’re getting older, and after 10 years of cutting trails in Saginaw, it’s time to hand it off. We call it the Love Train. We wanted to hand off a Love Train that had plenty of coal to keep her going because we want to see it succeed.
Major Chords for Minors absorbed us, this was our mission in life. These past 10 years have been really special, just thinking back to all the kids and families I’ve gotten to know and meet, or see on the streets or in the grocery stores. You can’t have too many friends.
When we gave our committee notice that we wanted to step back in 2021 and let somebody else run it, they started a search. They asked me if there was anyone I knew who would be capable and interested, and Lisa Purchase Kelly came to mind immediately. We originally met her through Pit & Balcony Theatre, and we’ve always loved her spirit and her love for this community. She has a strong love for children, and she is just calm and collected. She knows how to run things and she has great contacts in this community and she’ll do a great job leading MCFM into the future.
This has been the greatest thing we have accomplished in our lives, 5,000 times over probably.
The next generation has got their feet in some soft clay that they can form the way we see the future. It’s just been the greatest ride of our lives and we just want it to continue helping kids.”
– John and Katrina Vowell,
Pictured: Katrina Vowell, Lisa Purchase Kelly, John Vowell
“Major Chords for Minors is a direct and individual way to try and reach every child in the community because there’s no cost associated with them, and there never will be. It’s not even like pay if you can. It’s just straight up, ‘Come here for free.’
It’s an invitation to everybody. I really like that part of it. We want them to be accountable for coming to their lessons, for practicing and doing the things that are associated with pursuing music. But other than that, there are no demands on them, other than to show up and play.
We also do art here and Mary Fives does several workshops. She’s only on Tuesdays right now, but she’ll go back to two days a week when we have more students. That’s a side gig for students who are here for music lessons and just giving them something else to do if they have extra time. Ultimately, this is a safe space for kids to come, hang out, be themselves, learn things and explore who they are or what they like.
This is an important thing to give kids a reason to stay here as they grow. To keep this organization going and growing, Money is always the biggest need. We depend on grants and donations, big and small, to keep the lights on and to support the capable instructors who share their time and talents with children.
Instrument donations are always welcome. Right now we only teach guitar, piano, and drums, but are hoping to expand into brass and woodwinds eventually. We need businesses and organizations to sponsor an event or invite the kids to play at an event they already have going. We need venues for the kids to showcase their talents and to draw attention to potential sponsors and donors. We need to partner with local businesses to mutually support each other, and we need volunteers to help in the studio, to keep a welcoming, stable, and stimulating environment for the students who come there.”
– Lisa Purchase Kelly, Executive Director