The Salvation Army's Solid Rock Music Academy strikes a chord with Chico youth

The Salvation Army’s Solid Rock Music Academy strikes a chord with Chico youth

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The crescendo of vocal warmups fills the halls of The Salvation Army of Chico, California. Meanwhile, Corps Officers Lieutenants Jeffery and Kristin Boyd clear dinner plates off tables and move backpacks against the wall.

That’s because in Chico, the music program is just the starting point.

“We take a holistic approach with the program,” said Lt. Jeffrey Boyd. “They come here at 5:00 p.m. and they sit down for a hot meal. They share the meal together. After that they go into vocal training learning music theory.”

Boyd said following the vocal training, the kids have some free time and get a chance to interact. “Our kids are from all different schools and all different walks of life,” he said. “But here they come together as one team.”

The Solid Rock Music Academy, started with the help of a city-funded grant, provides an opportunity to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children. The individualized music lessons are offered at no cost to the participating families and give kids a one-on-one experience with instruments they may not have access to otherwise, like ukulele, electric and bass guitar, and a full drum kit.

“A lot of them come from families that don’t have an opportunity to do one-on-one lessons. That’s probably the most communal aspect of it,” said guitar teacher Travis Reames. “They literally get to come together to join a band. It’s not so much about the one-on-one lesson just to lift themselves up and to make them better as musicians, but it’s how they can all lift each other up, like the rising water that lifts all boats.”

Lifting all boats—and voices—with a holistic approach.

“The progression of the music is one thing, but to see the progression of coming out of their shells is even greater,” said Boyd.

The Salvation Army's Solid Rock Music Academy strikes a chord with Chico youth
Courtesy Salvation Army Del Oro Division.

It’s clear the Solid Rock Music Academy is about more than simply making music and providing meals.

“A lot of them don’t have the opportunity of being a kid,” said Reames. “With the internet, with their families, it seems like everybody is in a rush to grow up. That’s the childlike magic that comes out of music.”

In a broader sense, that is what Salvation Army programs like this do—they aim to meet needs in the community. And sometimes, like in the case of student Helena Gaglione, those needs evolve over time.

“When I started going to The Salvation Army, it was for food boxes. From there, it led to youth groups—that was in Oroville. Then we moved to Chico, and it was like ‘there’s another church here’, and so I went into every program I could get into,” Helena said. “You can express so many things through music. And it’s not just here. There’s music everywhere.”

Helena said she has found that just like music is everywhere, so is The Salvation Army.

“I kind of want to have a Salvation Army everywhere I go,” says Helena. “It’s kind of my goal. I’ve looked at colleges with Salvation Armies in towns specifically for that. It’s about how caring and how accepting they are to everyone and everything that they do. They always have been there, and they always will be there. You can depend on them for anything.”

Do Good:

  • You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.
  • How do we treat everyone with love and kindness, as if they were our neighbor? Get the Do Good Family Roadmap and take a 4-week journey for families in how to be a good neighbor. Follow the guide to see what the Bible says about the art of neighboring and take tangible steps together on your printable roadmap to be a caring, helpful, welcoming and supportive neighbor right where you are.
  • Watch this video to see how mariachi lessons at The Salvation Army are bringing youth in LA together.
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