Music program aims to give at-risk youth a note up

A group of young musicians and their mentors showed off their talent in a concert called the “Real World Music Showcase” Sunday, May 14, 2017, at Emo's in south Austin. (KXAN/Andrew Choat)
A group of young musicians and their mentors showed off their talent in a concert called the “Real World Music Showcase” Sunday, May 14, 2017, at Emo's in south Austin. (KXAN/Andrew Choat)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A group of young musicians and their mentors showed off their talent in a concert called the “Real World Music Showcase” Sunday afternoon at Emo’s in south Austin.

They are participants in a program by Anthropos Arts, an organization connecting at-risk or low-income youth with professional musicians.

This year’s concert featured music from Colombia, Cuba, Angola, Lebanon and New Orleans.

Mentors in the program provide free music lessons to their mentees, help them build confidence and share life skills. Ultimately, the organization says its efforts are aimed at increasing the number of young people with at-risk or low-income backgrounds who graduate high school and attend college.

Some of the students participate in Anthropos Arts in addition to their school band.

“I wanted to play the clarinet, but then there was no more so they gave me a trombone,” said Bryan Paxter, who is in the program. “I started playing, and I was like, OK, I’ll give it a try. And I liked it ever since.”

Bryan has been playing the trombone three years – and loves the challenge.

Anthropos Arts will be 20 years old next year. During the group’s first year in 1998, it provided individual lessons for 15 students at two high schools. Fast forward to 2016, and the organization has grown — that year it served 150 students at 16 middle and high schools.

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