METRO MUSIC: Reaching Kids Through Music

The Des Moines Public Charter School has closed.  But one classroom remains open, teaching troubled kids about hope through music.

Listening to 15-year old Brooke All sing, it`s amazing that just 9-months ago she didn`t know the first thing about making music. “Nope.  Not even close”, she laughs.  Now, she`s learning to write, sing and produce music using equipment that most Los Angeles pros would be jealous of.  She’s learning what it takes to me a superstar, and it’s all happening at the Des Moines Public Charter School.  “It became more real.” she explains, “I mean, it`s something that every kid dreams of but until you get to actually experience it, be able to work with producers, be able to record your songs, CD`s, pictures, everything it doesn`t become real.”

The Music in the Metro Program at the Des Moines Public Charter School is about as diverse a group as you can get.  Students are black, white, hispanic; they come from different backgrounds.  One of their teachers is even blind.  What brings them together is music.

Richard Galbreath, Mr. Rick to his students, says to really teach kids you have to speak their language—the language of music.  Through music he teaches reading, writing, communications and math.  And the kids are eager to learn.  “Who says learning can`t be fun?” he asks,  “Everybody can create even if they don`t have music. Just write a poem.  ‘I can`t write a poem.’  Yes you can. just write.  Mr. Rick snaps his fingers.  “To somebody else that`s just regular four snaps.  But in music, counting, one, two, three, four, two-two, three, four.  It`s how many beats are in that measure so there`s your math.”

Mister Rick`s goal, the goal of the Music in the Metro program, is to get kids off the streets and into something productive.  Something where they can cultivate their talents.
Skylard Bish admits he didn`t have much of a future when Mr. Rick first reached out to him.  “I was using marijuana, you know, didn`t go to school, didn`t care about my grades, didn`t care what my parents thought.” Bish recalls, “I met Mr. Rick when me and a couple of friends were on our way to actually jump a kid for no reason.  And Mr. Rick, he asked if we had any musical talent and my thought was no, why would I have any musical talent?”

But Mr. Rick persuaded Bish to come to the class.  Try it out.  And it changed Bish`s life forever.  Now he dreams of being a musician. “I`m trying to make it as a rapper, a producer, a manager, a recording engineer and hopefully I can help with Music in the Metro.” Bish says.

Mr. Rick says this program changes kids lives.  He`s seen it happen.  But with the school now closed, the future of the program is up in the air.  “Every day when I unlock the door, ‘is my stuff still going to be here?  is there going to be someone here telling us to move on?” he says, “We cannot lose this program.  If they get rid of the arts you might as well get rid of the future because that`s the kids.”


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