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COVID 19 Updates: Walker|West Partial Re-Opening Plan 2020

Information for our partial re-opening which began Monday October 12, 2020.

Here at Walker|West community is a key component of our mission.

Earlier this year we made the decision to shut down normal operations, moving to virtual programming because of the MN Stay-At-Home Order in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the time since, we’ve had success with our virtual programming, from students joining us from across the country for music instruction to our music series reaching people all over the world.

Our staff and faculty have been listening, adapting, and innovating to creatively address how the Walker|West community explores music together. Virtual instruction will continue, and remains a priority for everyone’s safety.

We learned through feedback from a number of our parents and families that access to in-person, safely-distanced lessons would prove a better accommodation for their music learners. For this reason a small group of faculty and students have re-started with in-person lessons, for phase one. We also are using this partial re-opening to demonstrate a level of operations for in-person programming for the ‘new’ normal we’re living through. Doing so with the safety of our community being top-of-mind.

To be clear the current plan applies for the scenario we are now in with the pandemic. This detailed plan is still subject to review and modification if there are adverse changes with the COVID-19 virus over the next few months.

Walker|West faculty, staff, board members, families and other key stakeholders were consulted in the creation of this plan. Below are some of the highlights.

Plan Development

Visiting The Site

  • Walker|West staff and students/families are required to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • NO staff, students, or visitors will be allowed to enter Walker|West if experiencing symptoms or have contracted COVID-19.
  • Visitors (e.g., non-enrolled students and families) must enter Walker|West by appointment only.
  • Student pick-up and drop-off should occur outside the building.
  • Parents or guardians are requested to remain outside unless specifically entering the facility to submit payment for student lessons.

Staff/Faculty Leave

  • Walker|West has implemented leave policies that promote faculty and staff staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household.
  • Walker|West will discretely contact any faculty or staff who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, and require that faculty or staff member to quarantine for the required amount of time.

Social distancing / Face Coverings

  • Social distancing of at least six feet must be maintained between all individuals at Walker|West.
  • No more than 10 individuals together in any room
  • In-person instruction must only occur in larger spaces designated for this use
  • Staff are granted the option to work-from-home to reduce the number of staff members on site each day
  • All faculty, staff, students and visitors are required to wear face-coverings unless:
    • Working alone from an office or studio with the door closed
    • Incapable of wearing face covering due to medical condition
    • Brass and woodwind players must wear masks with slits at the mouth to fit mouthpieces for playing their instruments. When not playing an instrument, players must wear a well-fitted mask.
    • Brass and woodwind players must use bell covers lined with MERV 13 material.

Building Ventilation

  • Walker|West’s building manager has contracted with Faircon Service Company to install GPS (Global Plasma Solutions, Inc.) Needle Point Bipolar Ionization (NPBI) in the building’s three HVAC rooftop units.
    • NPBI units inactivate viruses, and kill bacteria/molds that are aerosolized and surface borne. Based on third-party testing, GPS ionization units with a MERV8 (minimum efficiency reporting value) filter achieve the efficiency of a MERV13 filter.

Cleaning/Disinfecting

  • Work surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected regularly. A daily routine schedule has also been implemented for general cleaning and disinfecting of rooms.
  • High-touch areas, including phones, keyboards, touch screens, controls, door handles, railings, copy machines, etc. will be disinfected periodically throughout the day when Walker|West facilities are in use.
  • Cleaning services and products will be provided by CINTAS.
  • Walker|West faculty or staff will clean and disinfect equipment and specified musical instruments after each occurrence of in-person instruction.

Plan Implementation and Monitoring

  • The COVID-19 Preparedness plan for faculty and staff has been distributed to faculty who must come to the facility for in-person instruction and other related tasks.
  • All Faculty and staff will receive the plan via email and review it during an upcoming faculty and staff meeting.
  • Students and Families who come to the facility for in-person instruction will receive the “COVID-19 Guidance for Students and Families”.
  • Management and staff will monitor the effectiveness and impact of the implementation.
  • Management and staff will regularly check with faculty to ensure the preparedness plan guidelines are understood and followed.

To request a full version of the plan or for questions please contact our admin/student services email: info@walkerwest.org

July 2020 Newsletter

Accents & Illuminations Newsletter – July 2020

Below is our Quarterly update from July 2020.

Violin students and siblings Wacheke, Mukuhi, and Wangari strike a pose. Read more about their musical family on our blog.


Walker|West Accents & Illuminations

July 2020 Newsletter

Powering through with Music

We’ve made several major changes since early spring, specifically moving to virtual programming. In addition to the disruption of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been processing the tragedy of George Floyd and subsequent events, and we have felt deep mourning with our shared communities.

Walker|West strives to maintain spaces that promote strength and healing. We miss our in-person classes, as well as the joy and laughter they come with. However, the feeling of togetherness and commitment to music learning is the same, even if through a computer or a phone. Thanks to the resilience of our instructors, staff, and students, and with your support, we have continued to provide music education to all.

With this quarterly newsletter, we’ll provide updates on what we’ve been working on since April, and an exciting preview of what’s to come.

Keep scrolling to catch up with Walker|West!


Funding Updates

Walker|West would like to give a special thanks to our funding partners. Donor and foundation support allows us to continue (and increase) music education access for our students.

Here’s a look at some of the major support we have received this quarter:

FS Foundation has been a true partner with Walker|West, initially supporting our older adult program, providing COVID-19 funding to expand our partnership with MacPhail Center for Music Learning and Twin Cities Jazz Fest. Now, they’ve extended their support for our summer youth programming and other youth engagement programs.

Youthprise funded us again in the spring, to assist with COVID-19 impacts to our general operating budget. Youthprise has been a partner for many different aspects of our work, including the Minnesota AfterSchool Advance program which provides funding for afterschool and summer activities for Minnesota Families.

Harlan Boss Foundation For the Arts has extended their support for the second year of our Rondo Community Music Series. This well-attended series debuted last fall and will be returning in a virtual format this September.

US Small Business Administration funding was a new option for us, in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, helping us to cover general operating funds during this challenging time.

….

To make a major gift contact Braxton Haulcy, Executive Director (braxton@walkerwest.org)

To join our giving community as an individual or monthly donor visit our website: walkerwest.org/our-music-school-community/how-to-donate/


Walker|West Capital Campaign – Coming Soon

We’re preparing for a new capital campaign with our ‘Walker|West Without Walls’ initiative. Join us as we grow our capacity to serve more students, virtually and in-person, increase our enrollment, and build our plan for an updated facility.

In case you missed it, see our recent feature in the Pioneer Press

COVID-19 Update

We are currently working on surveying our faculty to assess our capacity for offering (some) in-person learning. We will also be sending a survey to our current families* to get a feel for comfort levels and interest for in-person vs. continued (or increased) remote learning.

We will follow guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), with consideration to guidance from Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS), and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to make our decisions.

Updates will be shared on our website, via social media, and email updates like this. If you would like to become a volunteer member of the reopening planning team, please email Tonya Gregory, Program Director (tonya@walkerwest.org).

In the meantime, our virtual lessons and programming will continue! Keep scrolling to learn more about what we’ve been doing online.

*‘Current families’ are students enrolled for the 2019-2020 academic year and 2020 summer programming and lessons.


Our reality is virtual

We have been hard at work finding new ways to continue music instruction. Here’s how we’ve adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Virtual Lessons

Here at Walker|West, we are accustomed to in-person instruction and learning. With the onset of COVID-19, what we had always done needed to be changed to better serve staff and students safely and appropriately. We saw some dips in enrollment in the beginning of the crisis, and continue to think through innovative ways to serve! With the help of our resilient staff and instructors, we adjusted accordingly with lots of success for our local families in the metro.

Though we are rooted in the Summit-University and Historic Rondo community, thanks to going virtual, our reach is now nationwide! Students can enroll from anywhere, and have done just that! Walker|West Co-Founder Grant West, has been teaching students in different parts of the US, from home.

Blog Post: “Virtual Lessons Bring National Reach”

Virtual Recitals

In Early summer families, instructors, and staff performances from our strings and piano programs this summer via ZOOM and Skype.

Students and viewers were very satisfied with the ease of the event. They found it to be organized, and there were viewers from the Twin Cities, Boston, and Chicago! The feeling of being live and in person was missed, but the transition to virtual is appreciated and well received.

Here is what community member and Walker|West parent Kenna Cottman had to say:

“The online piano recital was a great experience for my son Ebrima. He said it went perfectly. My whole family was able to participate in different ways even though we all had different things going on, so it really was great. I want to really commend you for making this distance-learning really work. I’m really happy with the Skype lessons, I’m really happy with our continued participation with Walker|West. Just keep up the good work!”

We’ve been posting about our virtual lessons and recitals online – follow us on social media for more.

See Photos from “Walker|West Recital #2”


“Drums. Music. Life.” Podcast

Sponsored by Walker|West and created by Kevin Washington (dedicated Walker|West Teaching & Performing Artist), this bi-weekly program is here with passion and purpose.

The podcast explores music as a powerful healing agent. Hear Kevin and his family share musical performances and rich cultural history, while highlighting how music is instrumental in positive mental health, especially within the African American experience.

“Drums. Music. Life.” is available now on Buzzsprout, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Apple Music.

Listen to “Drums. Music. Life.” Anywhere


Walker|West Without Walls – At Home

The ‘At Home’ series is an extension of the Walker|West Without Walls initiative spotlighting members of our community outside 760 Selby Avenue.

In this photo series posted on our social media, we embark on a journey together, documenting what it’s like to learn outside of the ‘normal’ we came to know. It seems especially relevant now, since gathering is such a crucial aspect of community. It’s a way to stay connected. We embrace change, and it only brings us closer – even as we may be physically distant.

Read the latest “At Home” series interview on FB


Follow us on social media & join our mailing list for regular updates on programming, performances, students & teaching/performing artists.

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Virtual Older Adult Programming

Working with students of all ages is an important element to the integrity of our organization.

Groups like our Amazing Grace Chorus who were featured on Kare-11 last summer, provide moments of learning and connection for treasured members of our community. With safety as priority, we made the difficult decision to change the layout of our older adult programming during the beginning stages of the encouraged self-quarantine and subsequent MN Stay at Home Order. We created a pilot program for new students with free 30 minute online lessons with our instructors in piano, woodwinds, brass, percussion, guitar and voice.

Existing older adult students (ages 55+) were able to convert in-person lessons to virtual lessons. Here’s what two of our older adult students had to say about their experience when they moved to remote lessons:

“My instructor is Grant West. He can take a piece I thought was impossible to learn, he breaks it down in small simple steps, and before long I can play it! It’s a privilege to be able to take from a pianist who is so creative and talented. He’s always so positive! The online lessons we’re a little bit tricky for me at first, but thanks to Walker West and my smartphone they were able to help me get connected. And thanks to Grant West, he makes my sessions fun and productive.”

–Jean Rohrer, Piano Student

“I love the convenience, the feeling of community, the amazing, helpful staff and the special attention that I receive from my teacher and the other members of the music faculty.  I am lucky to have been first taught by Reverend Walker himself. Now, I am more than pleased to be under the watchful eye of Grant West, a true music master in his own right, who is a patient, attentive, and engaging teacher.”

–Lewis M. Rambo, Piano Student

 

Start your lessons with Walker|West. We take great pride in serving students of all ages in our music learning community. You too can join – by enrolling now, via google form:

For questions contact Student Services: 651-224-2929 or info@walkerwest.org


Other Virtual programs since spring

Among the online programs we’ve done are the virtual Twin Cities Jazz Fest and our ‘Music for Families’ early childhood programming and we are preparing for an innovative take on the Rondo Community Music Series this fall.

We’ve moved our Grow Through Music summer camp online.

Learn more about our Growth Through Music camp


Meet the Walker|West Marketing Team

W|W Marketing team from left to right: Courtney, Benny, Genesia & Shaunte

 

Have you noticed anything different?

We wish to keep our community of supporters up to date on the excellence of our organization. Communication and promotion is imperative in ensuring you know exactly what’s going on, can stay connected, and get involved!

Meet the Walker|West Marketing Team!

  • Courtney White – Marketing Team Leader
  • Benny Moreno – Social Media Manager
  • Genesia Williams – Design & Strategy Manager
  • Shaunte’ Douglas – Communications Consultant

Special Thank you to Joan Nyberg 

Joan has helped to build the foundation and structures that are used to elevate the Walker|West brand and communicate with our students and families, community and supporters. While Joan has recently retired from the Walker|West team, we are grateful for her contributions helping us grow through (marketing) music.


Jamming through a Global Health Pandemic

COVID-19 created new challenges for all of us, but nothing that we can’t navigate through. These challenging times have pushed us to innovate and find new ways to gather, grow and explore!

Here’s how our teaching and performing artists are enriching the virtual performance space:

Rondo Community Music Series (returning this fall)

The Rondo Community Music Series wrapped up in late winter with outstanding performances by Ashley Dubose, the Kevin Washington Quintet; Robert Robinson, Debbie Duncan and William Duncan, and DeSean Jones.

An appreciative audience packed the house at Walker|West Music Academy for every performance. This year we remain dedicated to bringing you hope, healing and joy through the power of music. We’re excited to be returning this fall with our 2020 line-up, beginning this September.

The Rondo Community Music Series is being changed to virtual music performances so that potential audiences can continue social distancing protocols. We have created RONDO COMMUNITY MUSIC LIVE, a platform that will bring live performances into audience’s homes.

Be sure to follow us on social media so you don’t miss a beat! 

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Twin Cities Jazz Fest Live on Crowdcast

This virtual format showcased the live music you love with artists that are the best of the best.

Jazz Fest Live was presented by AARP Minnesota and supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, St. Paul Cultural STAR, NEA, HIWAY Federal Credit Union, RBC Wealth Management, and JAZZ88. Several of our Teaching Performing artists and alums were featured performers!

Walker|West performers for the series were:

Catch up on Virtual TCJF Performances – via Crowdcast


Music Education Fosters Success

Music education has benefits in the classroom, in the boardroom, and in life. Our students, no matter their age are enriched by what they learn with us.

See the impact of Walker|West Music Academy:

Image courtesy of Amber Woodhouse.

 

Powerful Alums

Former students like Amber Woodhouse live out the cultural and community roots that are at the core of our music tradition.

Though based in Nashville, TN Woodhouse attended Walker|West as a high school student a number of years ago. She is a multidisciplinary artist featured on NPR’s “10 Nashville Artists To Add To Your Playlists”  who recently told Rolling Stone Magazine she has had enough. Speaking out against rampant injustices like that of the killing of George Floyd, with her new piece “A Message From One Of Your Black Friends.”

Watch Amber Woodhouse’s stirring work – via Rolling Stone Mag


2020 Founder’s Award Recipient

Congratulations to the winner of the 2020 Walker|West Founders Award, Ariam Hashel!

Every year, we ask our instructors to nominate a student that has shown and proven dedication to the mission of Walker|West Music academy. The winner exemplifies gathering, exploring and growing through music. Read more about Ariam and the other graduating seniors on our blog.

Blog Post: “2020 Founder’s Award Recipient”


Music Healing Scholarships

⁣⁣We know that during these trying times, one way to pursue healing is through the power of music.

In partnership with MacPhail School of Music and the Twin Cities Jazz Fest we offered a month’s worth of weekly lessons for students ages 5 – 18. Students with some prior music training are receiving lessons in piano, organ, bass, drum, woodwind, brass, guitar, violin, viola and voice.

Our Music healing scholarships opened up access for 15 students to begin or continue their music learning journeys. Then, with support from the FS Foundation, the 4 weeks of free 30-minute lessons was extended to 50 weeks. That’s a whole year of vital music education.

Your support helps more students impact the world around them, like Ariam, Amber, and our Music Healing scholars.

Providing affordable and of high quality music education ensures students reach their fullest potential. With the availability of tuition assistance, anyone can reach their goals. As this July 2020 edition of ‘Accents and Illuminations’ is wrapping up, keep going to hear all the ways to engage with our work!


The Future Is Now

Together we can grow the work of Walker|West. Check out our new ways of connecting to find what you enjoy. Share with your family and friends so our mission can continue to thrive.

Make a gift of any size to support our programming.

Individual donors, whether one-time or monthly, allow us to provide tuition assistance for families, grow our general operating budget, and cover staff and instructor costs.

Join our giving community today!

Sign up for music lessons with our talented instructors.

We serve students of all ages, across a range of genres and instruments. There’s a program for you, your family, and your friends to explore.

Enroll today!

Be a Walker|West Ambassador – Share our stories!

We’re increasing our storytelling power with our expanded marketing team. Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to get regular updates from us. When you see an interesting story from us, feel free to share with people you know!

Sign up for our newsletter.

Thank you for your continued support of Walker|West.

Why Walker|West: Wacheke, Mukuhi, and Wangari

Why Walker|West: Wacheke, Mukuhi, and Wangari

Njoroge Family

“Walker|West Without Walls – At Home,” our social media series, gives us access to the many layers of our community. Families, in particular, are foundational to our work. From Grant West and Tom West to Debbie Duncan and Mr. Duncan (her brother), to the Hashel sisters, and more –we’re used to seeing siblings instructing, learning, and growing with music.

Violinists Wacheke (14), Mukuhi (12) both began studying string instruments when they were young. Wacheke and Mukuhi are both members of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and Wacheke, who will enter Roseville Area High School in the fall, was just one of five 9th graders accepted in the more advanced upper grade orchestra. Wangari (4), the youngest of the three sisters, is just beginning her music education journey.  

We recently spoke with their family about learning during these challenging times. 

The two eldest siblings note the positive impact of Walker|West. They enjoy the perks of being Walker|West students, especially right now. “During COVID, music education gives us a way to express ourselves while most things are unavailable. Walker|West Music Academy has allowed us to experience different opportunities that were not previously available, like meeting Roderick Cox, and going to the Minnesota Orchestra.” 

The quality of Walker|West programming and instruction is of the highest importance to students and families. Frustrated in the beginning, the Njoroge sisters took time to adjust to the format of virtual lessons and recitals. They particularly like the fact there is no commute to virtual classes, and they don’t have to take too much time to prepare. They really appreciated the time allotted to rehearsing before the virtual recitals. “It was great that we could be broken up into small groups to rehearse.” Wachecke and Muhuki have a great level of confidence in their violin instructor, Earl Ross. “Working with Earl is great because he is patient with us. He really takes his time with teaching us and understands when we are struggling with something. He makes sure we get it at our pace.”

In the photo above, the girls pose with their instruments wearing bright colors and dresses made of cloth from their parent’s community in Kenya. Ndugi, their mother, says:

“Growing up in Africa, we were raised by very strong Gikuyu men and women in a community setting with lots of love and in a very socially nourishing environment. We had a very stable foundation rooted in [our] African culture. As the country opened up to western media and other western influences we saw our community change right before our very own eyes“

Over time, she explains,  the impact of colonialism had a very deleterious effect on how Kenyans perceived themselves as well as how they perceived black America. When it came time to raise their children (all born in the US), it was important that they find a community that embraced and celebrated the histories and cultures of the peoples of African descent. Walker|West is one of several organizations the Njoroge Family found in Saint Paul that does just that.  

Ndugi talks of her family’s “love for self, African heritage, and African Community” grown from involvement with community organizations in African diaspora communities of the Twin Cities. Walker|West is rooted in the historic Rondo neighborhood, which held one of the largest and richest collections of African Americans in Minnesota. A neighborhood which was famously dismantled with the construction of 94W. Though historic Rondo was forever changed, the spirit of that community, and it’s musical traditions is at the core of the Walker|West method. 

“The Walker|West family continues to nurture our dear daughters beyond our expectations. The community here has given them a place they can confidently feel safe to be who they are, are welcomed, included and supported.” 

We’re always pleased to tell the stories of our students and their families. Follow our social media series “Walker|West Without Walls – At Home” on facebook and instagram.

Facebook: @WalkerWestMusic
Instagram: @WalkerWestMusic

To become a part of the story, enroll in our programming today with instructors like Earl Ross, and others who make music education fun for students of all ages.

Free Lesson

And to help Walker|West sustain our work, reaching more students like the Njoroge sisters please join our donor community by making one time or recurring gift of any size

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Walker|West 2020 Founder’s Awardee – Ariam Hashel

Walker|West 2020 Founder’s Award Recipient – Ariam Hashel

Each year, Walker|West Music Academy acknowledges our graduating seniors for their commitment to their music education. This year, we honor the Class of 2020 for their perseverance through the Covid-19 Pandemic and moments of community unrest in response to systemic injustice. Additionally, the Walker|West Founders Award is presented to one student who has shown exemplary musicianship and dedication to their music training.

Picture of 2020 Honors Awardee Ariam Hashel

We are pleased to announce violist Ariam Hashel as our 2020 Founders Award recipient.

At 9 years old Ariam was excited to learn an instrument, when seeing her older sibling taking violin lessons at Walker|West. Her musical advancement speaks loudly, and she attributes her academic success to the tools she obtained through individual lessons and as an assistant for our Summer Music Camp. During her near decade of study with us, Ariam has also participated in numerous well known music programs such as the Artaria Chamber Music School and Sphinx Performance Academy. She exemplifies the mission of Walker|West, which is to gather, explore, and grow through music.

Her instructor Earl Ross, shared a few notes on Ariam’s dazzling and community-centered musical career:

In the time I’ve worked with Ariam, I’ve watched her grow from a beginner student tentatively drawing her bow across strings for the first time to an accomplished young violist playing Bach, Schubert and Hofmeister.

Even as Ariam has participated in music activities, she has maintained an outstanding academic record throughout the years. But perhaps as important or more important, has been Ariam’s commitment and ability to foster community. At times shy and self-effacing, she has been that student who offers to help younger less confident students work through a particularly difficult passage or technique. Or finds a way to make a new student feel more comfortable. Often, it is her voice cheering the loudest when a student completes her/his piece during a string recital.

Ariam will attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN this fall. She plans to participate in “a plethora of music programs at the Blair School of Music.”

Congratulations Ariam from the entire Walker|West village. Thank you for making our music learning community strong.

2020 Founder’s Award Honorable Mentions

We are also incredibly proud of our Founders Award finalists, Elijah Awada and Benjamin Bauer, who have both shown a high level of commitment to their music education, and have grown tremendously in recent years. Both of these students are enrolled in individual lessons and participate in various Walker|West Jazz Ensembles. Their instructors wish them continued success.

The 2020 graduating class of High School Seniors include:
(View Student Spotlights on our facebook page by clicking their names)

Ariam Hashel, (viola) Individual Lessons, Summer Music Camp assistant

Elijah Awada, (piano) Individual Lessons, Jazz Ensemble
Ben Bauer, (bass) Individual Lessons, Jazz Ensemble, Summer Jazz Intensive, Summer Music Camp assistant

Max Walker, (saxophone) Jazz Ensemble
Colin Karp, (saxophone) Jazz Ensemble
Eli Soss, (saxophone) Jazz Ensemble
Elliot Wall, (drums) Jazz Ensemble

Eli Zukor-Zimmerman, (bass/drums) Individual lessons
Sergo Amanuel Abraha, (piano) Individual Lessons
Stella LaCroix-Dalluhn, (piano) Individual Lessons

These students add to the legacy of Walker|West Music Academy, showcasing the impact of our programming and power of our community. We are proud of each of them for reaching this milestone, and wish them success in their future endeavors. Congratulations, Class of 2020!

To join our donor community and make music education possible for more students like these visit: walkerwest.org/our-music-school-community/how-to-donate/

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Walker|West Pursues Bold New Vision

Walker West Music Academy Pursues a Bold New Vision

A summary of the 2020-2023 strategic plan and the full document are available for review.

Walker West Music Academy is making one of the largest changes in its 32-year history. We are refocusing the organization on making a bigger difference in the lives of families and students who are most in need.

Drawing upon our decades of  music-teaching experience and the power of music education to enhance cognitive development, Walker|West will work to address community needs, including:

  • The African-American achievement gap
  • Brain development in infants and toddlers
  • Social isolation and cognitive decline in senior citizens

The goal is to become an organization that not only teaches music but also changes lives.

“We will continue to welcome students of all ages and backgrounds, but we’ll focus our recruitment efforts and new programming on helping those who are most in need in our community,” said Braxton Haulcy, Executive Director. “The research is clear. Music education benefits people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, and we are dedicating ourselves to using that power for good.”

The new direction is the result of a year-long strategic planning process that included input from stakeholders ranging from Walker|West students, parents and faculty members to St. Paul Mayor and former Walker|West student Melvin Carter. The refocus involves more collaboration with other organizations and taking programming outside of our Selby Avenue facility and into the community.

Following are some of the new or expanded programs associated with this change in focus:

  • Group music classes in keyboards and African drumming taught by Walker|West instructors at St. Paul’s Barack & Michelle Obama Elementary School, where 95 percent of the students are youth of color. 
  • An early childhood  music education program for parents and their pre-school children, including babies as young as six weeks old, taught at Walker|West by an instructor from MacPhail Music Center.
  • Digital Goes Live: A Pathway to Success provides digital and acoustic music instruction, Pro Tools certification, industry connections and a pathway to a stable career in the audio production field for students at St. Paul’s High School of Recording Arts and Walker|West students.
  • An expanded, full-day summer camp that includes music and movement. The camp is a collaboration betweenWalker|West and the Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD). 
  • Walker|West’s Amazing Grace Chorus is a dementia-friendly choir open to any senior citizens in the community.
  • Programming specifically for elders, including group and individual lessons, recitals and opportunities for music listening, performance and inter-generational exchange and the development of an instrumental-ensemble group.

(Note: Some of the above programs are on hold or have moved to virtual platforms due to the pandemic.)

“When more people are engaged in positive, life-affirming activities that can help them overcome barriers and develop the skills needed for success, everyone is better off,” Haulcy said.

A History of Teaching Music, Changing Lives

Walker|West was established in 1988 to provide a safe place for children in St. Paul’s Summit University neighborhood to engage in a positive, life-affirming learning environment. Our founders, Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West, taught music and built self-confidence in students who often didn’t have many people encouraging their success.

Walker|West’s teaching techniques are designed to give students an immediate sense of accomplishment and success. After the first lesson, students are able to perform simple melodies and/or rhythms. Following in the founders’ footsteps, today’s teaching artists become mentors to their students.

Many Walker|West students have gone on to receive degrees from prestigious music colleges, including the Manhattan School of Music, Juilliard, and Berklee College of Music. Former students include Grammy winners and nominees, and many professional musicians. Just as important are the Walker|West students who did not pursue a career in music, but developed a sense of confidence, a love of learning and the habit of hard work in the positive, supportive community that is Walker|West.

Walker|West is supported in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

COVID-19 Update: Summer Music Camp & Jazz Intensive

Walker|West Summer Program Update

Summer is fast approaching and decisions must be made about our Summer Music and Movement Camp and the Jazz Intensive programs. We want to assure parents that our top priority is the safety of our students and families.

Conditions and social distancing recommendations related to the COVID-19 outbreak are changing regularly. We are monitoring this dynamic situation closely and are developing plans to respond to multiple scenarios.

Option 1: If  it is not safe to hold the Summer Music and Movement Camp in July, as scheduled, we are considering moving it to August and will confirm specific dates with you when that information is available.

Option 2: We are also exploring virtual options for presenting these programs if social distancing protocols have not relaxed enough to safely hold either program in person during August.

At this time, we will continue to accept registrations for both summer programs. If  in-person camps are cancelled, tuition and fees will be fully refunded. If in-person camps are converted to virtual programs and you choose not to participate, you will also receive a full refund.

Please email us or call 651-224-2929 if you have any questions.  

COVID-19 Update

WALKER|WEST MUSIC ACADEMY RESPONDS TO COVID-19

Walker West Music Academy is committed to the safety and well being of our students and their families, our staff, and the entire community. With rising public health concerns surrounding novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we are doing everything we can to limit its potential spread.

In light of the recommendation from health officials, Walker|West will be transitioning to a remote learning platform on a temporary basis starting the week of March 16th. Current students and families will receive details about their lessons via email.

Future updates will be sent to families and students and will also be posted on our website and our social media platforms. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Walker|West Student Services at 651.224.2929 or info@walkerwest.org.

 

 

Register for Session 3 Lessons Today!

Register for Session 3 Music Lessons Today!

Girl playing the trumpet

Registration is open for Walker|West’s Session 3 music lessons. Whether you are a new or continuing student, please call 651-224-2929 or register online to reserve your preferred lesson time, day and instructor. Session 3 begins February 10 and ends April 25.

We’re looking forward to making music with you!

Insight News Features From R & B to Gospel

Insight News Features “From R&B to Gospel”

Check out the excellent article in Insight News about our upcoming free concert, From R&B to Gospel, with Robert Robinson, Debbie Duncan and William Duncan. There are still seats available. RSVP today. The article is reproduced below.

Robinson, Duncan & Duncan to perform free concert at Walker West

Walker West Music Academy (WWMA), 760 Selby Ave., St. Paul, will be transformed by a concert featuring Robinson and Duncan & Duncan – three of the most premiere living music legends in the Twin Cities area.

William Duncan, Debbie Duncan, and Robert Robinson will perform gospel, jazz and R&B songs with the background vocals of the WDP (William Duncan Project). This free concert takes place Saturday (Nov. 16) at 7:30 p.m. and is the third of four presentations of the Rondo Community Music Series presented by WWMA and Harlan Boss Foundation.

The purpose of the concert series is to highlight the work of teaching artists at WWMA, and the organization’s mission to create a music learning community rooted in the African-American cultural experience, where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather, explore and grow through music. Specifically, the concert series is a platform for teaching and performing artists to feature presentations of music rooted in the African-American cultural experience, provide provocative premiers of new music and provide distinct approaches.

The Robinson, Duncan & Duncan concert will be led by William Duncan, a teaching and performing artist that has taught youth and adults piano, organ, and vocals at WWMA since 2006 when he arrived in Minnesota. He teaches a range of genres including gospel, classical and jazz.

As music became a strong influence in his life from youth to adulthood, he encourages his students by asking them what music does for them and how does it speak to them.

“Music is just another form of communication. Make it sing,” said William Duncan. “Let it gravitate towards you. It has to be ingrained in you. Let it speak. Sing and speak what God has given you. I like to see where students come from creatively.”

William Duncan credits the founders of WWMA, The Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West, for creating a space where teaching and performing artists can thrive. Additionally, he credits them for students having learned and traversed the world performing with the skills they have acquired at the school.

“They are so inspirational and great motivators. I love them dearly,” William Duncan said. “(As a teaching and performing artist you walk in WWMA and) everyone is working on a project. There is music all the time. I am paid for playing. I am more inspired to do what I do.”

He strongly encourages prospective students to come to WWMA for instruction because, “it’s one of the best schools in the country. You don’t find too many schools that share the love. Not many still striving for community period. Students are going on to do great things. I pay homage to the founders. They have been a great inspiration to an abundance of people.”

William Duncan encourages the public to come to the Robinson, Duncan & Duncan concert, which includes his sister, a renowned talent in her own right.

“You will be inspired and you won’t walk out the same,” said the instructor and musician.

For more information on the Robinson, Duncan & Duncan concert contact WWMA at (651) 224-2929 or visit www.walkerwest.org.

7 Reasons to Support Walker West

Our Seven Reasons to Support Walker|West

Give Now to our Give to the Max Day Campaign

Support Walker|West today, and help us continue to provide programs like:

  1. The Rondo Community Music Series, a free series of concerts and community-building.

 

  1. Summer Music Camp, where students learn to play 4 instruments and sing in a choir in just 3 weeks!

 

  1. Summer Jazz Intensive, where students learned improvisation, music theory, jazz history, and playing together in an ensemble.

Drummer

 

  1. Music for Families, a collaboration between Walker|West and Sing Play Learn with MacPhail®, this program is open to parents with children ages 0 to 4. Now Walker|West offers music programs for students from infants to senior citizens.

 

  1. Master Classes, including last month’s workshop with jazz great Terence Blanchard and a potential Februrary 2020 workshop with Iraqi-American composer/jazz trumpeter Amir ElSaffar.

 

Jazz Trumpeter Terence Blanchard

  1. Community involvement. Can music instruction help close the achievement gap between minority and white students in St. Paul? Walker|West instructors are working with Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary School to find out. Walker|West co-founder Grant West will provide piano/keyboard instruction and internationally known percussionist Babatunde Lea will teach a percussion class to the young scholars at Obama Elementary, where 80 percent of students are persons of color. We’re also collaborating with St. Paul’s High School of the Recording Arts. Walker|West students will go to HSRA to learn digital recording and technology. HSRA students will come to Walker|West to learn instrumental music and basic music theory.

 

  1. Our Mission: Walker|West creates a music learning community rooted in the African-American cultural experience, where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather, explore, and grow through music.

 

Please Contribute Today!