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Sacramento Citadel offers free music lessons to local youth.

by Sydney Fong –

Captain Osei Stewart encourages Eugene Buffington on the drums.

Lately, Tuesday evenings at The Salvation Army Sacramento Citadel Corps have been pretty loud—and for good reasons.

On a weekly basis, children are learning to sing, dance and play musical instruments. This is all part of the new Visual and Performing Arts Night, a program that got off the ground in late January.

The Citadel officers, Captains Osei and Lynn Stewart, created the lessons.

“We saw there was a need to offer something to the kids, something that could benefit them down the line,” Captain Lynn said. “Music is a great tool and really helps kids, and where they can be creative and they can learn.”

Many of the new instruments—guitars, keyboards, drums and studio equipment—were purchased after The Salvation Army received a $5,000 grant from the Sacramento River Cats Foundation.

“I really like coming to this church a lot and participating in every activity they have,” said 12-year-old Micaila Harrison.

She has also enjoyed bonding with her fellow students.

“I joke around with a lot of them,” Micaila said. “They’re really close friends.”

On average, more than 25 youngsters—some who attend the corps and others who participate in the after-school program at the community center—come to the Citadel to take lessons from the church staff.

They have also received some assistance from Larry Dayton, shelter program manager for the B Street Center of Hope transitional facility. For Dayton—a member of the B Street Band, which performs worship music every Sunday to the homeless community—spending time with the kids after work has been a pleasure.

“If a child wants to learn to play a guitar,” said Dayton, “and I have something to do with that, it makes me feel great. It’s truly one of best things I can do, and I want to pass that along.”

One of his students is 15-year-old Eugene Buffington, a young man who has been humbled about his struggles mastering the guitar.

“The first instrument I started learning was the guitar,” Eugene said. “That’s really difficult…learning to strum and switch from top to bottom.”

Even though the lessons have been challenging, Eugene is a firm believer that the time spent at the Citadel can be productive for anyone. That’s why he has invited his buddies to come out to the Visual and Performing Arts Night.

“They’re not doing anything else, why wouldn’t they come,” he said. “It’s better than sitting at home thinking what you’re going to do, and then doing nothing. You can just come here and have fun.”

Captain Lynn hopes that Eugene and the rest of her students will have an opportunity to showcase their new skills in front of family and friends in a future concert.

“Just to see the kids excited and eager to learn,” she said, “it’s really awesome.”

For more information about the Visual and Performing Arts Night, please call (916) 452-9388.

Reprinted from the website of the Del Oro Division,

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