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A family affair

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As the quote says, “music speaks what cannot be expressed.” JoAnn Finch-Martin and her family have used the power of music to grow in talent as well as in friendship, love and cohesiveness.

Their musical journey began when Finch-Martin’s oldest son, Jerred Finch, who was in the fifth grade at the time, decided he wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Finch-Martin played the saxophone in middle school, high school, and college and wanted to support her son, who wanted to learn the violin.

Finch-Martin inquired about private lessons and outlets in which her son could display his talent. A co-worker informed her about the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO).

“I wanted my son to be a part of that orchestra because it was an inner-city program and there were other African-Americans in there and then just the principles that Betty Perry had, not only how to play the instrument but how to be a part of a team,” said Finch-Martin.

Due to her musical background playing the viola and all of the wonderful experiences she had as a professional musician in New York, Betty Perry decided to share her knowledge with inner-city youth and established The Metropolitan Youth Orchestra in 1982.

MYO is a comprehensive music program for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade that fosters the development of musical growth, critical and creative thinking and interpersonal skills.

“I wanted to create a program where parents were reconnected with their children,” said Perry. “This program is not only youth centered, but family centered.”

Perry said her program helps students achieve academically, provides skills that lasts kids their lifetimes and offers discipline.

“She brings out the best in the kids,” added Finch-Martin. “She makes learning fun.”

Jerred wasn’t the only child to learn how to play. Perry approached JoAnn’s other children, Joilyn (cello), Julian (bass), and Jameel (viola), and invited them to also play in the orchestra. The Martin children have been playing music for more than 10 years under Perry’s supervision.

Finch-Martin said her children learning to play instruments is the least of what music has done for her family. Before the MYO, the Martins were spectators in each other’s lives. Now that all of Finch-Martin children are involved and flourishing in the program, it is easy to support one another; their love and talent in music has brought the family together.

“I even have learned how to play the bass, said Finch-Martin. “This orchestra really advocates family bonding. Also, this is not competitive. We want our children to be the best they can be but we don’t want to be too competitive amongst each other or others in the orchestra.”

For the Martin children, learning to play an instrument hasn’t always been a walk in the park. The more skilled they became, the more expensive it became for Finch-Martin and her husband, Charlie Martin.

Finch-Martin believes that the MYO has been a wonderful support group for her family. Although her children have grown in their musical capacity, they haven’t outgrown the MYO. Jerred, who is currently a student at Ball State University, comes back to help with the program and is using the supplementary skills that he’s learned from the program in his college career.

The public can check out the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra on Feb. 8 from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m., prior to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s annual Celebration of Black History concert that begins at 7:30 p.m.

Registration for the MYO is currently closed and a waiting list is being formed for the 2011-2012 school year. Open enrollment for 2011-2012 will begin in May and will close June 30.

For more information, call (317) 229-7079 or visit www.indianapolissymphony.org and click on the Learning community link.

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