Katy is a junior at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley, Washington, and is passionate about music, leadership, soccer, and academics. After high school, she hopes to attend Harvard or Stanford and pursue medicine or social entrepreneurship. Below she describes how and why her and her friend Philip Howard created Life Enhancement Through Education in Music:
One day on the bus on the way to a band trip, my friend Philip Howard and I were trying to find a way to make a difference, and the rest is history. That day, we decided to combine our passions for music and community service and create Life Enhancement Through Education in Music, or LETEM play.
Our organization was founded because our musical experiences changed our lives – from the constant camaraderie in the band program to the lessons on dedication and teamwork, we felt that music should be part of every child’s life. From a personal perspective, band has really made me the person that I am. I never realized how important that one period per school day would be, but the memories I have made in my band room will stick with me forever. As I gained positions of leadership in our band program, including Drum Major of our award-winning marching band, I learned so much about the great game of life – I truly believe that music is the only way I would have experienced these lessons. I could speak for hours about the benefits of music, and that is what I realized when we came up with the idea for LETEM, which aims to solve a crucial problem: as we have experienced, music can be extremely expensive. Costs can range upwards of $1,000, especially when instruments have to be purchased.
LETEM works to make it easier for kids to be involved in music, regardless of financial status. We receive donated instruments from the general public, repair them for free through a unique partnership with a local music store, and distribute them to kids who have applied. Our application is simple, only requiring confirmation of free/reduced lunch status and participation in some sort of music program. Thus far, 100% of applicants have received an instrument, and we have distributed $10,000 of musical equipment through our community.
Our organization has also evolved to include an outreach aspect, and we now teach clinics and make speeches throughout the community. Notable projects have included helping to build a curriculum in a first-year charter school in our area – kids at this school were the recipients of hands-on training from high school volunteer musicians, and their teacher received advice on building his music program.
This summer, we are excited to debut a weekly music program at a local youth recreation center, which will make music fun both for younger kids who don’t play an instrument and older ones who do. LETEM has become a diverse organization that explores many paths, but we always stick to one central mission – bringing music to this community. Our experiences have taught us how important music is, both to individuals and the world, and we will work tirelessly to show others the power of our favorite passion.