• Abigail Pedraza

    By the age of 7, Abigail “Abby” Pedraza had realized she had a passion for singing, but it wasn’t until she was 10 years old that she started attending classes at Youth Music Project. Four years later, Abby joined our Advanced Track Vocal Ensemble. This ensemble has the opportunity to perform in a variety of settings. Not only did Abby perform with a vocal group in a Blazer halftime show, but she also sang the National Anthem at the Child Abuse & Family Violence Summit. When asked about her thoughts and feelings about both performing solo and with the Advanced Track Vocal Ensemble, she stated, “My friends also take voice lessons [outside of Youth Music Project], and none of them are able to have the opportunities that I have.”

    In her Junior year Abby joined our intern program until late in her Senior year when she was hired on at YMP as a Front Desk Specialist and has even subbed in as an Instructor on a few occasions.

  • Throughout her time at YMP, Abby has grown as a singer while gaining new friendships, confidence, and work experience. She is inspired about her future as she will soon leave for Missouri and attend Urshan College as a music major with a concentration in vocal work. 

    As Abby reflects on her time and experience at Youth Music Project, she says, “Youth Music Project has been an inspiring and welcoming place to grow up in. Throughout the ten years I’ve been here- I was taught the importance of music as a student. Through my internship I was able to instill that into the younger group of kids I worked with. Then I was able to join the front desk staff and learn about the importance of connecting with families and our community. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Music with a vocal concentration, because of all the mentorship I was given here. I’m able to pursue what I love because YMP helped me find my passion.”

  • The Screaming Tacos

    Being able to say you’ve been playing in a rock band for almost 3 years at age 11 is a pretty cool thing and The Screaming Tacos can tell you all about it.                             

    Caden, Ike, Charley, Freddy and Ryan are all about commitment. They go to school together, have sleepovers from time to time, meet at YMP to learn new songs, and even on Fridays after school they get together at one of their homes to practice music.                     

    A big part of their success can be attributed to their instructor, Alan. Each term he presents them with new challenges allowing them to showcase their performing skills. Alan’s biggest challenge? Well, managing a class with 5 boys who have known each other since they were little is no easy task, but it’s clear he knows by now how to keep them all engaged and having fun.

  • When asked if there is something they don’t enjoy about the class, they all agree there are times you might have an argument with another band member at school, then having to come play music with them might not be the most fun. Sure, spending so much time together can result in some arguments and disagreements and any musician in a band out there can relate to this. But we could also agree that playing music is the one thing that will make any disagreement disappear.

    There is a possibility that The Screaming Tacos will continue playing together for many years, get a record deal and tour the world and there is the possibility they won’t. What’s special about this custom band is the musical memories these 5 friends continue building together year after year.

  • Juan & The Rollers

    Ceyjon Gonzales had only been taking private lessons at Youth Music Project for 1 term when she decided to share this experience with her friends Juan, Nikyla, Marta, and Trevor. They decided to form a band and call themselves Juan & The Rollers.

    This classroom is full of beautiful energy as instructor Shanna makes sure everyone, including their young adult’s caregivers, can participate by playing any of the different instruments available in class. There are no quiet moments because the music never stops. Rotating instruments is a must and what you end up with is pure joy.

    This rock band is nothing but engaging. When you see the faces of all the band members as they play together all you want to do is grab an instrument and join the fun. We are glad to be able to provide them all with a fun, creative, and safe space.

  • Hari Cowling

    Hari Cowling has been coming to Youth Music Project since he was 10 years old. Now at 15 he is writing and producing his own music and performing original songs at Open Mic. He’s written over a hundred songs and keeps coming back to Youth Music Project because it helps him write more music.

    Hari says he loves music. Right now, he is taking piano lessons with Spencer and is having fun. He’s also explored guitar, bass, and voice lessons at Youth Music Project but is really excited about the drums. He looks up to drummer Jen Ledger from the band Skillet.

    His piano teacher, Spencer,  says, “Hari is a delight to work with. He always brings a positive attitude and is quick to pick up new ideas. We’ve been working on different ways to play chords as well as developing our ears to learn songs. It has been special watching his musicality grow.”

  • Kealani Petito

    Here at Youth Music Project we have students of all ages and are fortunate enough to not only see these students grow musically but into young adults. Kealani Petito is one of the many students we have had the pleasure to see grow into the young artist she is today. Since Kealani moved to Oregon in 2016, she has been a vocal and piano student at Youth Music Project. Over the years her passion for music has grown so much that she applied and was accepted to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She will be pursuing a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) degree focusing on Musical Theater. We sat down with Kealani to ask her a few questions and this is what we learned:

  • What inspired you to pursue a degree in music/ music related degree?

    “What inspired me was the sheer passion I hold for performing arts and singing. I also was lucky to be introduced to it from a very young age. I also connected with performance, whether it was goofing around with friends or singing in a musical — I truly love it. I was also fortunate to be absolutely astonished and inspired by my mentors along the way. The teachers I’ve had in the arts, directors, performers, and peers have all been able to help me recognize the importance of fine arts. They have all inspired me to pursue what I really love. I am so grateful for this next opportunity and am excited to do this not only for personal passion, but with a purpose to tell a story — and hopefully inspire others as I have been.”

    How do you feel Youth Music Project has helped you as a musician?

    “Youth Music Project has helped me stay connected with what I love to do on a close and personal level. The one-on-one and group support I’ve received is immeasurable and really helped me develop new skills within myself. Youth Music Project  has aided me in growing vocally and I believe
    this is mainly due to the genuine support I have received.”

    Any advice you would give current Youth Music Project students?

    “Stick with what you love, truly! Don’t follow through with something that doesn’t feel right and go where your heart leads you! It may sound cheesy, but it’s really true. If you are truly passionate about something, follow it. Be open and ready to grow. The instrument curiosity and knowingness to keep searching for the light is what has always helped me! Lead with your truth and find the joy in it. Thank you, Youth Music Project, for being with me through high school, I am grateful!”

  • Abigail has been able to grow as a singer while gaining new friendships and confidence. This has inspired her to start looking into her future and wonder how her voice and experiences will play a role in that. As Abigail reflected on her final thoughts about Youth Music Project and her experience, she said, “I’m mind blown by not only how much I’ve improved, but all the opportunities that I’ve had – so it’s really great. Everyone should go here!”