The lower levels of Brayton Elementary School were filled with music making on Friday afternoon.  observed kids were scattered about practicing on violins or banging away on drums to learn beats. It sounded noisy but these kids were getting down the fundamentals that will create harmony.
Kids 4 Harmony is an after-school program of Berkshire Children & Families that offers lessons in viola, violin and cello to children in North Adams and Pittsfield. It is reliant on donations to keep it going and, on Friday, the organization was presented with a $2,000 check from Williamstown's A Better Community organization.
Jane Frado of A Better Community said her organization holds several clothing sales a year and donates the funds to local programs that improve the lives of community members. The group had formerly been known as A Better Chance and focused on bringing unserved minority children to Williamstown to attend high school here.
About 20 children participate regularly in the North Adams program and another 40 in Pittsfield.
The program offers opportunities for children to participate in mentoring and music programs ranging from the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles to the Days in the Arts residential program at Tanglewood. They are also piloting a musical training app, Meludia.
The children also have participated in the Community Intergenerational Action Orchestra under the direction of James Bergin at St. John's Episcopal Church in Williamstown and in composing for a Williamstown Theatre Festival-sponsored event.
Noella Carlow, 21st Century site coordinator for the North Adams Public Schools, said family engagement is a mandated piece of the school district's after-school program. Kids 4 Harmony fills that role with the Kathy Quinn of BCF who works with families on social emotional aspects.
"That's the hardest piece really, but we've pulled several of the parents in on a consistent basis," Carlow said. "They attend all the events, and we provide transportation and ... there's goals that these kids have and those goals bubble up in a variety of ways and it's a win-win situation."
The program started in North Adams three or four years ago and begins with children in second or third grade and currently runs through Grade 7 although the organization would like to follow the students as they enter into high school. Pelletier said the funding would have to be in place to expand.

More From WNAW AM