In 2008, Desert Sounds started with one child: Jeremy. Jeremy had a learning disability preventing him from reading. Jeremy found a new way to access reading and language skills through music. Through music education, Jeremy was able to find the confidence and build the resilience to overcome challenges, and now is an adult working a successful career as a cybersecurity analyst.
However, as Jeremy was playing in his school bands, his Trumpet player friend was told by the school band director, he didn’t have any trumpets, so Jeremy’s friend couldn’t join the band. Jeremy’s friend was told he was out of luck and couldn’t play music. The band director didn’t seem keen on making accommodations for people to access the school band. So Jeremy hatched a plan.
Jeremy, who knew his friend really wanted to play music, made a plea to the band director. He recognized that his friend could learn a different instrument since there were no trumpets. And since the band was lacking bass section instruments, Jeremy suggested his friend pick up the contra-bass clarinet. The band director agreed he could use more bass instruments but said Jeremy’s friend would have to buy his own reeds.
However, Jeremy’s friend was on a tight budget and couldn’t afford the reeds he needed to play. He’d already given up playing trumpet, but since he couldn’t buy reeds, he would be forced to quit the band altogether.
Jeremy didn’t think this was fair. He realized how important music was in his own life and wanted other kids to continue to experience music too. Whether they could afford reeds or not, Jeremy used the small amount of money he earned from working in the school cafeteria to buy reeds for his friend to continue playing with him in the school band.
When they played their final performance together, these two friends both felt the pride and accomplishment that comes with overcoming a challenge. The feeling was only amplified because they could share that experience.
Even at a young age, Jeremy understood his community needed to come together to lift each other up. He wasn’t giving a handout. He was lending a hand up. And with the selfless act of Jeremy as inspiration, Jeremy’s mom Jennifer continued the work.
Thus, the first program of Desert Sounds, The Jeremy Project, was born. Growing year after year, The Jeremy project grew to loan out over 500 instruments in over 87 schools across Valley of the Sun.
With the program’s success, Desert Sounds expanded further and, in 2011, began offering after-school music education programming in our first physical location.
With a community of children and parents, backed by the community support of donors, Desert Sounds has become one of Mesa and Chandler’s most valuable music education programs, which has helped hundreds of underserved kids access music and education.
The story isn’t over! Taking Jeremy’s lead, we work every day to expand our affordable programming. If you’ve experienced the impact of music in your life, you know how powerful music can be in building communities, teaching impactful skills, and creating fun experiences for the leaders of tomorrow.