West Kendall kids drum to a different beat in RhythmFUN program

Brandon Cruz, founder and director of the South Florida Center for Percussive Arts, teaches a hand drumming class.
Brandon Cruz, founder and director of the South Florida Center for Percussive Arts, teaches a hand drumming class. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

West Kendall residents can expect drumsticks, drum sets, and congas for percussion season this fall as the South Florida Center for Percussive Arts debuts its new RhythmFUN program.

“I grew up in West Kendall, and I live here now — we are trying to push for opportunities here,” said Brandon Cruz, founder and director of SFCPA, a nonprofit that aims to create new ways of studying, performing, and enjoying music through percussion. “There’s sports programs, dance programs, but music and artistic programs are limited. Our big focus is making opportunities for parents and their students out here.”

RhythmFUN is a yearly, 14-week program that runs from Sept. 6 through Dec. 17 in the fall and from Jan. 23 to May 6 in the winter/spring. The program serves all students, 18-months- to 18-years old, and all performance levels.

Students are divided into groups based on their age: 18 months to 3 years old; 4 to 5 years old; 6 to 8 years old; 9 to 11 years old; 12 to 14 years old; and 15 to 18. The two younger groups meet once per week and the other groups meet twice weekly. All groups will have two performances that are free and open to the community.

“The incoming students can expect to learn how to work as a team and perform right from the start,” Cruz said. “Regardless of experience they will learn how to put music together and perform in front of people, instead of just doing fundamentals.”

Hope Mucklow placed her daughter, Elise Rivas, in private lessons last year.

“Elise focused on the vibraphone and marimba for the recital she played at in December,” Mucklow said. “She also wrote and played a song for Brandon, her teacher.”

Elise, now 9, is gearing up to participate in the RhythmFUN program this fall.

“It’s the best investment of our time and money,” Mucklow said. “Talented instructors, with competent knowledge in their field, that lead with inspiration and fine character are hard to find — we need positive male role models for our children.”

Thanks to an expected $22,992 grant from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Youth Enrichment Program and The Children’s Trust, Cruz will be available to more students through scholarship opportunities.

“The most rewarding part for me is that I get to meet and interact with new students, families, and people each week,” Cruz said. “Seeing kids smile and parents happy, that joy that I get is the most rewarding part.”

To learn more

Enrollment spots and scholarships are still available for the RhythmFUN program. The center also offers individual and summer programs, and Free Friday Drum Jams, open to the community, 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday at 12600 SW 130 St., in Miami.

For more information, visit, email or call 786-478-6899.