Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Miami Music Project resumes free after-school programs

The Miami Music Project Children’s Orchestra performs in concert. Auditions are open throughout the year.
The Miami Music Project Children’s Orchestra performs in concert. Auditions are open throughout the year. Amanda Smith Photography

“Where words fail, music speaks,” is just one of the quotes to be found about the power of our universal language.

Make music part of a child’s world by supporting the Miami Music Project, which resumed its tuition-free, after-school integrated music programs this week. An estimated 500 young students from Liberty City, Little Haiti, Little Havana and Doral chapters are attending.

The group’s organizers see an orchestra as “a scale model of a society in which the contribution of its individuals serves a common purpose.” More than 60,000 teaching hours and 200 community-engagement performance hours are provided for young musicians each year.

Instrument instruction includes violin, viola, cello, bass, trombone, French horn, trumpet, flute, clarinet, oboe and percussion. Members of the children’s orchestra meet between three to five days a week with the goal to build “transferable, practical and social skills needed to improve academic motivation and social preparedness.”

For aspiring musicians who want to be involved, auditions are held throughout the year.

Miami Music Project is a local, nonprofit arts and social development organization founded in 2008 by world-renowned conductor James Judd. The group will perform its first concert of the year in December.

For more on how you can get involved,

Ride the speedway for a cause

Start your own car engines and get out for a drive on the Homestead-Miami Speedway to raise funds for Driving for a Cause.

The “Track Laps for a Cause” charity event is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 19. Fans can bring their own cars down to the track and drive around the 1.5-mile oval of NASCAR champions with all laps led by the official Homestead-Miami Speedway pace car.

The cost is $10 per track lap. Rides in the official Homestead-Miami Speedway pace car, a Ford Shelby GT 500 Mustang, are also available for $60 per lap. Motorcyclists can also participate if wearing a helmet.

Local area car clubs are invited to attend for a group rate and can get a set amount of laps around the oval, and a photo opportunity on the track. Contact Brandon Ward at 305-230-5228 or for more details.

Drivers will enter the speedway through Gate 18 on Southwest 344th Street and go through the tunnel to the infield. And because this can be so much fun, additional laps may be purchased with cash or credit card after the completion of paid laps. Cash and credit cards are also accepted at the gate.

“Driving for a Cause” supports South Florida youth and educational programs. Check out or

Historic club seeks members

Find time to do good work, and meet new friends, through the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club. Started in 1923, club members through the years have had a common bond to make Miami a better place to live by helping others with community projects.

The group will hold a fun, free wine-and-appetizers introductions party from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sept. 16, at the historic clubhouse at 1001 E. Ponce de Leon Blvd.

Most members live and/or work in the Kendall, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Coral Gables and Doral neighborhoods. Coral Gables Woman’s Club meets the first and third Wednesday night of each month at the clubhouse.

Members focus on fundraising for their May Van Sickle Dental Clinic for under-privileged children who cannot otherwise get dental care. Proceeds of event rentals of their beautiful Coral Gables building go toward the children’s clinic located inside the Ponce building.

To learn more about all the activities and projects of this group, and membership, visit You can RSVP to Deborah Van Stone at or Susan Tilson at

Check out the celestial view

It’s always free to look at the stars, but at this event you can learn about those in remote regions and the latest findings of high-tech telescope projects at Florida International University.

The event is free, too, starting 8 p.m. Sept. 18 at the FIU Physics Building, CP-145 lecture hall, Maidique Campus. The Southern Cross Astros will host James R. Webb, FIU research astronomer, who will speak on the “FIU Telescope at The Canary Islands.”

Webb will discuss this latest telescope that will form a triangle with celestial observations from telescopes located at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, and in Northern Chile — also known as the SARA Telescope System.

Webb and his longtime friend, Terry Oswalt, are founders of the SARA Consortium (Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy) that allows students and faculty in a group of now 13 colleges and universities greater access to hi-tech telescopes.

Oswalt is professor of engineering physics and chairman of the physical sciences department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s College of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach.

For more than a decade, Webb led the drive to construct the campus observatory that now houses the 24-inch diameter research telescope with a control room at the FIU Stocker AstroScience Center.

SCAS events include refreshments and prizes. For more, call 305-661-1375 or check and

Writers at free traveling museum

The public is invited to experience “The Way We Worked,” a collection of archival exhibits depicting American workers over the past 150 years.

Now on display at Pinecrest Gardens, the free traveling museum is open during regular park hours until Oct. 17. It is part of the Museum on Main Street project, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils. More is at

As a special tribute, the South Florida Writers Association has partnered with Pinecrest Gardens to present a two-hour cultural event, 2 to 4:15 p.m. Sept. 20, that also is open to the public.

SFWA members will share original writings of poetry and prose that pay tribute to the American worker in South Florida. An anthology of the works of SFWA members will be distributed to the public.

The event’s guest poet will be P. Scott Cunningham of O, Miami, and music will be presented by Sons of Maestro. This is a free, family-friendly event.

Pinecrest Gardens is at 11000 SW 57 Ave. To learn more about the writers event visit

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at