Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Nonprofit project introduces children to new genres of music

Bea Hines
Bea Hines

If you have read this column for a while, you know that I love music. It is a part of my life and helped shape me into the person I have grown to be. I give my elementary-school teacher Mable Thompson Glover, and my high-school music teacher Leila Williams, a lot of the credit for teaching me to love music even more. Both of these women died several years ago, but I will never forget what they taught me and for helping me to love and enjoy all genres of music — from country gospel to opera and the classics.

Many years later, in the mid 1970’s, Charles Mobley, an elementary-school music teacher and director of a community choir, started a string orchestra at Liberty City Elementary. I remember some people tried to laugh him to shame: “Who ever heard of a string orchestra in the black ghetto?” they chided him.

Mobley kept on teaching the classics to his children. One day, the Miami Herald featured him and his young orchestra in a story, and the naysayers stopped laughing and started listening.

I thought of Glover, Williams, and Mobley last week when I had lunch with Maritza Diaz of the Miami Music Project (MMP). She explained to me how that program is enriching the lives of our children.

The nonprofit MMP was founded in 2008 by world-renowned conductor James Judd, with a support grant of $1 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The idea was to instill practical skills needed to transform social behavior and academic motivation while creating new awareness in the most vulnerable communities.

So far, the program has exposed more than 25,000 public-school children to classical music — youngsters who otherwise would not have the opportunity to take full advantage of an integrated music curriculum.

The project started out with 15 students. Today, the roster has grown to more than 400 children in the first through third grades in Little Haiti, Liberty City and Doral. In Little Havana, the students are in the fourth grade and up.

There are 24 teachers and seven teaching assistants who provide more than 60,000 teaching and performance hours each year. The students are taught between three and five days a week.

One of this year’s projects is for the children to build their instruments out of paper. At 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Charles Drew K-8 Center, 1775 NW 60th St. in Liberty City, the students will graduate from paper orchestra and receive their real, wooden instruments. It’s called the “Paper Orchestra Graduation.”

Another “Paper Orchestra Graduation” will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at Toussaint Louverture Elementary, 120 NE 59th St. in Miami.

“This will be a great time for the students,” said Diaz, the communications and marketing manager for the MMP. “They will get their own instruments after weeks of learning about them.”

Diaz said her group has a great need for instruments. “Many of the children are from families who can’t afford to buy an instrument for their children. Donations would be a great help.”

If you can help, call Diaz at 786-422-5221 or log on to

Bleu Goes Pink campaign

Pink is the color for October. And for a good reason, too. It brings awareness to the plight of women who suffer from breast cancer and to those who have survived the dreaded disease.

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel kicked off its seventh annual Bleu Goes Pink campaign on Oct. 1, by illuminating the historic building in pink during the hotel’s annual lighting ceremony. The pink lights can be seen throughout the month from dusk to 10 p.m. nightly.

To help raise money for breast cancer causes, the hotel this month is offering “Spa for the Cure.” Call the Fontainebleau at 305-535-3283 to make your reservation for a “Bleau Ocean Luxury” treatment. The hotel will donate $10 for every treatment to Susan G. Komen Miami/Fort Lauderdale cancer organization.

You may also “Dine for the Cure” throughout the month. Prix fixe dinner menus at $55 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, will be offered at Hakkasan, Scarpetta, Michael Mina 74, and StripSteak at Michael Mina. Five dollars from every cover will be donated to Susan G. Korman Miami/Fort Lauderdale.

“Shop for the Cure” by purchasing a limited edition pink Lokai bracelet. For each bracelet sold this month, $1 will be donated to Komen. The bracelets can be purchased at Morris and Co. for $18 each.

Also, Liza Schwartz Jewelry, which makes a braided leather bracelet with a breast cancer ribbon, will donate $10 to Susan G. Komen for each bracelet purchased during October. The bracelet can be purchased at Lapis Retail for $30.

For more information about Bleau Goes Pink and to view menus,

‘Pink Strands for the Cause’

If you’d rather wear pink in your hair, stop by MY SALON Suite in Coral Gables, where the salon will be participating in “Pink Strands for the Cause.”

The event is a part of a nationwide partnership between Donna Bella Hair and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. For each $10 hair strand installed, MY SALON Suite members will donate 50 percent of the proceeds to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

For information on MY SALON Suites in Coral Gables visit,, or call Rosie Gillam at 847-897-7486.

Miami Global Dance Night

In celebration of its fifth anniversary as one of Miami’s premier multicultural, professional and contemporary dance company, The Peter London Global Dance Company (PLGDC) will present Miami Global Dance Night at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Cuban Hebrew Congregation Temple Beth Shmuel, 1700 Michigan Ave. in Miami Beach.

The PLGDC-produced fest will celebrate the multicultural dance heritage of Miami and will feature two world premieres of “cutting edge” choreography by Miami native Justin Rapaport. His new works will consist of Leah, a contemporary performance based on the biblical story of Leah with contemporary music by two Israeli composers, and Frosties, a theatrical solo accompanied by jazz music.

In 2011, PLGDC was a Knight Foundation Challenge Grant winner of $120,000. This event is supported in part with grant funds from the Cultural Council of Miami Beach.

The evening’s program will also include Carmen danced by the company’s principal dancers Sasha Caicedo and Yu-Mien Wu. The work Fire in the Coal Pot will be performed with a fusion of jazz improvisation and Calypso music using a combination of steelpan, wind and brass instruments.

General admission is $25 per person, and $20 for seniors and students with ID, and can be purchased online at Following the performance, a mix and mingle reception with the dancers and choreographers will be from 9 to 10:30 p.m. For more information, call 469-347-0008 or email

German American Social Club Oktoberfest

The German American Social Club of Greater Miami will have its annual Oktoberfest on Oct. 16, 17, and 18, and Oct. 23, 24 and 25 at the organization’s clubhouse, 11919 SW 56th St. The festival times are from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays; 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.

The Oktoberfest will feature bands from Germany and Austria,which will provide music for listening and dancing. Children will enjoy carnival rides, and there will be entertainment for all ages and authentic German food and beverages. Other activities will include presentations by the club’s folk dance and Schuhplattler groups outside under a large tent.

The festival is co-sponsored by Miami Dade Cultural Affairs Department. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for youths ages 6-20. Children under 6 are admitted free and includes unlimited carnival rides.

Veterans and active military are admitted free all days with valid ID. On Fridays, all Miami-Dade County employees will have free admission with valid ID.

For more information, call 305-552-5123 or go to

Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove presents Masquerade Cabaret

The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove invites the community to The Masquerade Cabaret from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Oct. 16 at the clubhouse, 2985 S. Bayshore Dr.

Entertainment will be provided by E.R.I.C. (Epic Righteous Invincible Combo). Tickets are $25 each and reserved tables of 10 are $250 per table. If you go, you may wear your mask and/or costume in the spirit of the season.

Also, please bring a contribution of three or more items for the Coconut Grove Crisis Food Bank and receive a free drink ticket. Parking is $3 flat rate at St. Stephen’s Church.

Proceeds will benefit the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove.

Miami hosts annual Homeless Stand Down

The city of Miami will host its annual Neighborhood Enhancement Team’s (NET) Homeless Stand Down event all day Friday, Oct. 16, at Lummus Park, 404 NW Third St. The event will assist in providing free services to our homeless community.

Local NET offices will assist at the event by collecting clothing donations until Monday. You may donate any clothing that is new or in like-new condition. Toiletries will also be accepted.

Neighborhood Enhancement Team offices are located at the following sites:

Allapattah NET, 1901 NW 24th Ave.; Coconut Grove at 3310-A Mary St.; Coral Way NET, 1415 SW Third Ave.; Flagami NET, 5135 NW Seventh St.; 6301 NE Second Ave in Little Haiti; 1300 SW 12th Ave. in Little Havana; Model City NET at 1000 NW 62nd St in Liberty City; Overtown NET, 1490 NW Third Ave.; Upper Eastside NET at 6599 Biscayne Blvd.; and Wynwood NET, 101 NW 34th St.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.