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Volunteer Heart: The Joy of Music School

It's hard to imagine a world without music. But for many low-income kids, music education is out of reach. The Joy of Music School has been working to change that for more than a decade.

(KNOXVILLE) Maya Wright, 12, started begging her mom, Delicia, four years ago to learn to play the violin.

Delicia didn't think it would be possible.

“There's no way I would have been able to afford private lessons,” Delicia said.

Violin lessons can cost as much as $60 an hour. Student violations can also cost hundreds of dollars.

About that time, she heard about the Joy of Music.

“There's no way to describe the blessing that it is,” Delicia said.

Every week, volunteer violin teacher Stan Smith spends about an hour with Maya one on one. He donates his 50 years of experience teaching music to three students each week.

“I have students who have gone on to play in orchestras. I have one playing in the Berlin Symphony now. But the main thing to me is the kids who go on and get married and come back and start their kids in violin. That tells me they got something out of it,” Smith said.

When Smith retired, he couldn’t imagine not teaching anymore.

“Being retired I had my retirement income, I just wanted to continue teaching. I love teaching,” Smith said.

Even though Maya is only 12, she already realizes how much she's getting out of it. She was accepted to play in a youth symphony, has been asked to play at her church, and has attended a music institute in Virginia.

“I like playing. Sometimes I like bluegrass and sometimes I like playing what Mr. Stan teaches,” Maya said.

“She’s done very well. And I’m very pleased with her progress all along,” said Smith.

The Joy of Music School has about 100 volunteers who provide free music lessons to about 200 low-income students this semester. More than 40 kids are on the waiting list.

If you would like to get involved, visit The Joy of Music School’s here.