The sound of music: Music Resource Center rounds out 20 years in operation

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MRC Membership Coordinator and dance instructor Ike Anderson was once a student of the organization. Photo: Ézé Amos MRC Membership Coordinator and dance instructor Ike Anderson was once a student of the organization. Photo: Ézé Amos

In 1992, area musicians, including local composer John Hornsby, set in motion plans for a community organization that offered middle and high school students the opportunity to make music after school, believing that a creative outlet could help keep kids out of trouble.

Now rounding out its 20th year in operation, the Music Resource Center has been successful in its mission. So successful, in fact, that since its inception, many of its students have gone on to pursue careers in music. Some were so inspired by the philosophy and goals of the organization that they returned to contribute to it.

Enter Ike Anderson, the MRC’s current membership coordinator and dance instructor. He joined as a teenager in 1998 after searching for an alternative to after-school athletics.

“I attended an assembly that MRC held at my school, and was wowed at how musically talented the kids were,” Anderson says. “I thought to myself: ‘I want to do that.’”

So he did.

Like most of the kids who join the center, Anderson had no idea what instrument to play. He tried his hand at both drums and guitar and ultimately settled on an instrument of a different kind: his body. Over time, Anderson became a dedicated dancer, developing a passion for the arts that landed him several gigs around town, plus industry skills and attention from the MRC director at the time.

This sort of talent-honing makes a future in music a reality for the kids who are members at the MRC, should they choose to pursue it.

“Many of our students continue [with] music long after their MRC careers are done,” says Anderson. “Performing arts schools, studio musicians, audio engineers, artist management, gaming development. I’ve heard too many stories to count. It is all proof that what we do here works.”

Monticello High School junior Asher Lapham serves as confirmation of Anderson’s claim. The 17-year-old, who began a dual-enrollment program at PVCC this semester, has been a member at the MRC for five years. In that time, he’s grown skilled at producing multilayered, quality beats.

But Lapham didn’t come to the MRC with these ambitions in mind.

“My mom brought me here when I was 12—it wasn’t my idea. I wasn’t really into music at the time,” Lapham says, playing a remix he made of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” just one example from a collection of work that he says has already filled several SoundCloud accounts.

It’s stories like Lapham’s that demonstrate the power of a well-intentioned organization like the MRC. Anderson explains that the MRC is soon starting a partnership with State Farm, whose assistance will help fund new equipment and furniture, among other renovations.

Says Anderson, “Our members are not only getting guitar lessons here, they develop social skills, responsibility, math skills, computer and technology skills—tools that will help them in adulthood with whatever career path they choose.”

“Many of our students continue [with] music long after their MRC careers are done,” says MRC’s Ike Anderson. “Performing arts schools, studio musicians, audio engineers, artist management, gaming development. I’ve heard too many stories to count.”

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