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"The kids really need this" | Knoxville nonprofit moves to free, online music lessons to keep normality in children's lives

The Joy of Music School offers free lessons to kids who would otherwise not be able to afford private lessons.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville nonprofit believes kids need normality in their lives more than ever before.

The Joy of Music School is offering free lessons to kids who would otherwise not be able to afford private lessons. Instead of halting lessons, they went virtual turning to teaching online instead. 

"The kids really need this, they may need this now more than ever," said executive director Francis Graffeo. 

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The online lessons are taught using Zoom, a website connecting people over video chat. Graffeo said some aspects were lost due to the transition, like not being able to play together, but there were also several new additions to lessons. 

"We're finding all kinds of solutions not just for teaching but for mentoring," he said. 

Every teacher is a volunteer that spends precious time with the kids. "A lot of these teachers are the only adults these kids know outside of their home and family, home, church, school or neighborhood," said Graffeo. "They can be a window in their world and we really take that seriously."

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Kids qualify for the program if their family falls under the household income level. Right now, only half of the kids enrolled are able to participate online, but Graffeo expects that number to grow. 

"It's a miraculous thing in this world and we're honored to be sharing it with kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford private teachers or lessons," he said. 

It's a temporary fix, but one that is making a major impact. "We want to get life as back to normal as possible for everybody," said Graffeo. 

The non-profit said they're always in need of more volunteer music teachers to be able to teach even more students. You can find more information here to volunteer or if a child wants to sign up.

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