1st Week of Programs

By Saphire Broxton, Events Intern

This week, summer programs started here at ZUMIX! ZUMIX youth all started classes in Director’s Cut, Con La Corriente, Street Program, and more! Over the course of the next two months, the students will be learning things such as Latin dances, how to manage a radio show, how to fix instruments, and how to write songs. As it is the first week, most classes were simply administrative; learning names, setting goals, and familiarizing the students with their classes and ZUMIX. However, once that was over, they quickly went down to business! I sat in on a few classes like Rock-Ed and Fix-It to have a better understanding of the kind of work they would be doing over the summer.

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In Rock-Ed, the youth facilitator started off the class with some more ice-breakers, playing games like Elephant King and going around asking people for their names and favorite ice cream flavors. Then, they began to look over some song choices the students gathered so that they could pick one to learn to perform at the ZUMIX Rock-Ed night on August 18th.

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In Fix-It, the students started to familiarize themselves with some of the tools they will be using throughout the summer as they learn how to fix things such as guitars. Dan Fox, the teacher, showed them how to use tools like screwdrivers, wrenches, and hammers. The students were also learning the differences between the tools and their uses.

These two classes only represent a small portion of the kinds of classes students have the option to take for free at ZUMIX. All year long, students are in-and-out of ZUMIX and expanding their knowledge on a vast amount of topics, so next time you’re at ZUMIX, ask about our youth programs!

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Alumni Spotlight: Charles Paizante

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Like many ZUMIX participants, Charles found out about our programs through a friend of his. “When my friend got accepted off the wait-list to take private drum lessons, I wanted to take lessons too”, remembers Charles. “I was about 8 then, and it took me a couple of years to get off the waitlist! But while I was waiting, I got to take many group programs, and it just felt natural. ZUMIX’s community is so welcoming and supportive.” Charles immersed himself at ZUMIX by taking Voces, Radio, and being a part of the Jazz All-Stars Ensemble. Although he had to leave ZUMIX before graduating high school so he could focus on his academics and applying to college, he still carries many lessons and fond memories with him to this day. “Meeting so many different people with different goals, values, priorities, and backgrounds really pushed me to think about life in a whole new way. I think my experiences at ZUMIX continue to help me step out of my comfort zone and do things to give back to my community, East Boston.”  

Charles is currently an Environmental Science major at Northeastern University. This year, he took time off to work for the city of Boston at the Boston Centers for Children and Families. The work he’s done this year has helped him gain a better understanding of what he wants to do in the future, and he is looking forward to starting classes again in the fall. He has goals of opening up a business in East Boston to help the community, and intends to stay in touch with ZUMIX for years to come.

Charles urges current ZUMIX participants to be true to themselves and to never be afraid of taking positive risks. He says, “It’s okay to take risks! Don’t let society tell you that you can or cannot do anything, listen to yourself. Do things even if they’re hard, and give it your all. It’s okay to go from point A to B to Z and then back. You’ll learn about yourself, expand your thinking, and be a stronger person for it.”

Looking forward: ZUMIX Spring Semester 2017

ZUMIX’s program year is divided into three different semesters: fall, spring, and summer. And in two weeks the spring semester of ZUMIX programs will begin, and students from far and wide across the lands of Greater Boston and the neighboring towns will be meeting at 260 Sumner street every week. Some of the exciting classes available this semester are Drumline, Droppin’ (a hip-hop class), Music Theory, Radio Street Team, and Zoom In (video production).

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Sarah, 15, preps the stage audio system for a student performance

Sarah, 15, a student who has taken classes at ZUMIX in the past, is applying for Zoom In, and it isn’t her first tech class here. She has taken “mostly Z-Tech classes” and wants to work with technology in the future, and ZUMIX is giving her opportunities to learn and even sending her to do tech for gigs. Her friend, Annika, 16, is applying to ZUMIX for the first time this semester. Annika is also applying for a technology related program, Z-tech Live.

“I’m excited about learning the technical side of sound because it’s not something I have a lot of experience with, but it’s something I’d like to learn instead of being left to figure out on my own.” – Annika, 16

The teacher of the Z-Tech Live program is none other than our very own Dan Fox. Dan has been at ZUMIX for 14 years and is excited for the second year of Z-tech Video programs to start. He also works with all the tech equipment at ZUMIX and is pumped about the newly donated speakers from Genelec, which will be placed in ZUMIX’s radio station.

For the rest of the non-techies at ZUMIX there is so much to look forward to. A prospective private lesson piano student, Wanda, 17, is looking to ZUMIX because it is a place where you can “work in teams with people of our age and through music we can express ourselves.” Cristian, 15, is hoping he gets into Rock-ed, and, more so, hopes that new people join so that he “can meet new instrumentalists and see how different people form and develop themselves in their own instruments.”

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Wild Painting performing at The Eddy in East Boston

Also in the new semester, Wild Painting, a ZUMIX band, is finishing up recording their first EP. And another band may begin recording in ZUMIX’s recording studio, called Metabots. All of this activity will be the backdrop to a strategic planning process led by an outside consultant, who will help get ZUMIX from our 25th birthday to our 30th. But for right now, as one of our Sprouts students, Omar, 8, said, this spring semester “is gonna be WOW!”

by Janna Ramadan, 16, ZUMIX Development Intern

All Speech is Free—But Positive Words are Priceless

At recent ZUMIX staff meetings, we’ve been talking a lot about the role of the media in our communities. This is for a couple of reasons- first, ZUMIX Radio is just transitioned from a web stream to 94.9 on the FM dial, joining the ranks of independent and non-commercial broadcasters across the country. This huge step forward is both an honor and a responsibility—a responsibility to be a true resource for our listeners, one that is unbiased, fair, honest, and responsive to the community it speaks to.

The second reason is the undeniable and overwhelming presence of the presidential election in national news cycles. For better or for worse, anyone related to a campaign, regardless of how directly, is getting ample air time, and our young people are being involuntarily hooked up to an IV of rhetoric that is often violent, hateful, and aggressive.

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As a group of adults responsible, a few hours a day, for young people about whom we care deeply, it’s no surprise that we then hold ourselves to a high standard of role modeling. But it can be difficult to compete in those brief and precious hours with the constant inundation so easily absorbed in the other hours of their life.

Enter: art. Sounds like a “duh” moment, right? ZUMIX is here to support youth to write music and create art that’s authentic in its messaging and, for lack of a better word, “real.” So we shouldn’t be surprised when we see that come to life—but it’s never ceases to inspire and encourage. Take the 2016 end of summer showcase at the Sinclair this past August.

14068300_10154679216587439_682635341524276639_nStreet Program participants learn to write and produce their own material that they then perform for each other and peers in the Boston area. At this summer’s final showcase, 15 year-old participant Liz performed her song “Forgive and Forget” that contained the chorus “And when haters go low we go high.”

If those words sound familiar, it’s because they echo those of First Lady Michelle Obama at July’s Democratic National Convention. It was an inspiring moment in her speech that reminded listeners to take the high road, and strive for grace and generosity. And here that message was again, this time from a young person evolving in the world, and now spreading it to a group of equally impressionable peers.

Those moments are what ZUMIX is all about. Think what you say on the air or on a TV news panel is a just a blip to be soon forgotten? Think again.

As disheartening as it is to see the opposite effect happen- people young and old repeating statements of derision and divisiveness that are so easy to come by in today’s 24/7 news cycle- those moments of elevation are even more powerful. Liz’s performance was a reminder that positive words can spread like wildfire- so let’s remember to keep the flames alive.