Pathways Through Music, a non-profit organization recently founded by Orpheus Academy's own Jesse Crites and Douglas Stefaniak, aims to serve Williamson County with quality music programming that benefits schools, communities, and individuals. The organization provides elementary music education to lacking campuses, creates ensembles and events, and funds private lesson scholarships for those in need.
In this abridged first episode of their conversational series, "Pickup Notes," Jesse and Douglas speak about the purpose and goals of Pathways Through Music, as well as what comes next and how to support their mission.
Douglas: Hi everyone, welcome to "Pickup Notes," a sit-down with the directors of Pathways Though Music. My name is Douglas Stefaniak, I'm the Program Director at Pathways Through Music.
Jesse: My name is Jesse Crites, I'm the Executive Director for Pathways Through Music.
Douglas: What is the need we are fulfilling in the community?
Jesse: Well we are serving the Williamson County community. We know that Leander does not have a dedicated music teacher for their elementary school students, and they don't have string programs, that is, orchestra or guitar. So we're really looking to address those needs for Leander. We also serve Title I schools that we have in Round Rock, and we also look to provide private lesson instructions for students involved and enrolled in our after-school programming.
Douglas: Why did we create Pathways Through Music?
Jesse: Well I think you and I sat down, along with a lot of other colleagues of ours, and we just noticed that nobody else was doing this, nobody else was really focusing on these specific needs. So we felt the calling to do just that, to provide these programs for those schools.
Douglas: Yeah. And on a personal note I know that I moved to Austin because of the thriving music scene, and there's so much to do with guitar. But then in the district just north of the city, there doesn't seem to be as many opportunities.
Jesse: Yeah, I mean if you think about-- Williamson County is right next to Travis County, and Travis County boasts one of the most iconic American music scenes: Austin, Texas. And yet just north of that county you have a school district that doesn't provide a specific music teacher for their elementary kids, and doesn't even have string programs. To me that's a bit of a travesty, and something that I know you, and I, and this organization can help address.
"Travis County boasts one of the most iconic American music scenes: Austin, Texas. And yet just north of that county you have a school district that doesn't provide a specific music teacher for their elementary kids, and doesn't even have string programs."
Douglas: What is it that we are currently working on? What kind of programs are we starting, what schools are in contact with?
Jesse: Funny thing, I thought that was going to be another challenge: "So we started this non-profit, is anybody going to want to take advantage of what we offer?" Surprisingly, it has not been a challenge. In fact, we have had to limit our number of schools.
We are going to be starting our programming this fall with C.D. Fulkes Middle School and Voigt Elementary School. Both are in Round Rock, both are Title I schools, and both are very excited to have us. A challenge that pops up there is providing instruments for these students, and that's something we're currently working on. We're working with other non-profits to help get instruments into those two schools.
We're anticipating anywhere between 6 students to maybe 24 for the first year, but with the capability of teaching up to 32 students in each classroom.
Douglas: Right. And all of those students are eligible for the private lesson scholarship, right?
Jesse: Yes. Of course part of our mission is to eliminate barriers. The most obvious is financial, some of the less obvious include transportation. You may have the actual financial means to do something but no actual resource to get you to that lesson. So providing scholarship money for students to pursue private lessons with an instructor of their choice. It's not dedicated to one school, so instead the idea here is that they'll find a qualified teacher that is within their travel resources, within their community.
Douglas: I think it would be great if we could let everyone know kind of what we're doing next and what our plans are for the future. So could you give us an update on what we're going to be doing moving forward?
Jesse: Yeah, quite simply put: grow.
Jesse: Extending our program into more schools and more school districts. So right now we're just in Round Rock and just in two schools, one elementary and one middle. Our big mission is to get into Leander ISD, and of course Hutto, Cedar Park, Georgetown as well, they're all within Williamson County. The vision is to expand into those school districts where the need is as well.
Developing our donor network and funding sources. Obviously a non-profit cannot be successful without a dedicated and supportive network of people giving time, finances, donating instruments, and probably a number of other ways that people can help out as well.
Sharing our mission with other organizations, whether it's non-profit or for-profit. And the goal is really to become a staple in the community. When people think of music and Williamson County, I want them to think of Pathways Through Music as well.
Douglas: Yeah, I agree. I think that's fantastic.
To those of you who have supported us so far, thank you so much, I'd like to say that. It's been really great hearing how supportive everyone is, and I'm looking forward to continuing to grow those relationships.
Jesse: You know I just want our audience, young and old, to just know this: You have a voice and it's worth hearing.
Watch the full episode: https://pathwaysthroughmusic.org/2021/06/18/pickup-notes-episode-1/
Please consider donating: https://pathwaysthroughmusic.org/donate/