THE WEBBER FAMILY (ALL 10 OF THEM) HAVE BEEN A CONSTANT FIXTURE IN OUR COMMUNITY SINCE 2008.
Octavia remembers passing by Walker|West at the old location often as a child. It wasn’t until she was invited to a recital years later, that she discovered all the great things happening inside. “It was just a really warm welcome,” she recalls, “Everyone was so inviting and interested in our family, especially the kids– and it just felt like home.”
Though the Webbers now live in a nearby suburb, Octavia and Jordan see the commute to weekly lessons and summer programs as a key part of their family’s music learning journey. Everyone in their crew who can hold instrument is learning how to play.
“Giving the children the chance to explore with teachers who bring out the best in them feels so important – those teachers become family, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and mentors – and you need to nurture and nourish relationships with good people!”
FUTURE OF WALKER|WEST: WHAT IS THE WEBBER FAMILY EXCITED ABOUT?
The Webber Family is excited about their family and children staying involved and connected as students, volunteers and community members. They hope to see more masterclasses and concerts, like the Terence Blanchard Masterclass in 2019 and the Desean Jones concert for the Rondo Community Music Series in 2020.
Walker|West is committed to providing music education access for students of all ages, from infants to elders. We started in a duplex on Selby offering lessons for K-12 students and now at 760 Selby we have programs for early childhood education, elders and older adults. Our expanded programming is mission centered bringing benefits of music education to more people in our community.
Susan and Patrick Stevens have been part of the Walker|West community since its earliest days. Their son Brian was a student and volunteer at Walker|West as a teen who needed a break from playing sports. Jennifer married into the Stevens family, and learned about Walker|West her first date with Brian. Their children (Elliott, Graham and Patrick) are now students of Walker|West having done recitals and camps with us. It’s safe to say, the Stevens are here to stay!
We checked in with the Stevens family, just as they pledged a $250,000 lead gift for the Walker|West Capital Campaign (which is currently underway). The Stevens feel a responsibility to invest in this music learning community, because they believe in Walker|West and want to honor what Susan calls, a heartconnection to our mission.
When Susan first heard Grant West’s music wafting out of Dayton’s, he happened to play a favorite song of her parents – this struck her right away. She needed to know more about the “2 guys teaching piano” on Selby Ave.
When Susan learned about how Rev. Walker & Grant West were revered community members, she could feel that Walker|West was a special place.
“Music is the language of the soul,” this is an adage Brian remembers seeing and hearing in his time as a student of Rev. Walker (and later Grant West). And while Brian is moved by our mission, he adds that “it’s the feeling inside the building that Rev. Walker & Grant West and so many others bring,” that makes the difference moving the mission forward. A mission and vision that has always been centered on impact for our neighbors, those near and far.
Susan’s consulting group signed on to help Walker|West create our first business plan in the early ‘90s. A plan that raised over $400,000 and helped move Walker|West to its next chapter at that time. As Walker|West is entering its next 30 years, the Stevens see this moment as a time to deepen their commitment as a family.
The large gift is unique among their charitable giving. It’s a stretch. But one they make enthusiastically, to support how our work is expanding and changing under leadership of Braxton Haulcy, our current Executive Director.
Walker|West’s teaching style is different from other places, Brian and Jenn agree. “It’s one thing to play and read music, they note, Walker|West offers something even deeper than that.” Jenn is a music educator, she studied music theory in college. As she recalls it, though she learned a lot the way she was taught theory didn’t live in her fingers or notes the way it does for Walker|West students. The sense of self expression, growth of confidence, interplay of chords and notes–not simply reading or doing pieces by rote, are things that stand out for Jenn and Brian.
Jenn notes the first time she came to a recital to see one of her children play. Recalling how our way of encouragement and support were unmatched. Students are often accompanied by teachers, which lifts the notes they know how to play, and turns it into something big! Family and friends sing along, calming any jitters that students may have. For Jen, this is a notable and welcome contrast from how she remembers recitals.
Music connects us, from East Saint Louis, to Wyoming, to Denver, to Mendota Heights, to Nebraska where Susan’s family is from. In uncertain times, music can communicate things we struggle to find words to process. Whether it’s our family singing show tunes when gathered together, or protest music carrying us through times of unrest – music comforts, heals, soothes and unites.
Along with healing, music sparks joy! We asked the Stevens family what they were most excited about for Walker|West and they had this to say:
Jenn: The idea for this gift started when we wanted to host a friendraiser to get all of our friends to experience what Walker|West can offer. Because of COVID we had to change those plans, and when the new building came up, a specific need became more apparent. We’re excited to support the new building. And as an educator, I’m excited about the expansion of programming, especially early childhood music education!
Brian: The new building will really allow Walker|West to evolve and be more flexible in how it evolves. Music is changing. How people want to learn music is changing, like with digital music production. It’s such a great time for the academy. We wanted to get in early, and we hope that others will join to help carry on the work of Walker|West into the next 50 years.
To make a major gift, or to support our capital campaign, contact Braxton Haulcy, Executive Director
Students at our Grow Through Music camp learning about drumming from Bro. Ghana Mbaye. Getting these drums repaired was the goal of our #GTMD21 fundraiser last fall. Thank you for helping to keep camp educational and fun!
Future Focused: Raising Capital for the Culture
Walker|West is claiming its title as a cultural destination and resource for the Rondo community. Now is the time to empower the entire community through music education from the African American experience. The richness in Black history, especially that of Rondo, requires continuous celebration. Join us in the work to make that a reality with the power of music. Learn how you can support our capital campaign as we focus on the Future of Walker|West Music Academy.
Large gifts are essential to the stability and growth of our organization, especially as we strive to reach our Capital Campaign goals. To support Walker|West with a major gift, contact our Executive Director, Braxton Haulcy.
You better recognize! Updates, awards, and recognition
Walker|West Institutional Video
New media alert! Should you ever need a refresher on some of the history of Walker|West, here’s a crash course. Share our video with your family, friends, and any music learners in your life.
We are excited to announce the new additions to the Walker|West staff and our Board!
Let’s welcome Marie Flowers as our new Outreach Coordinator, and Libby Turner as Program Director for Adult Education. We’re also honored to introduce Michael Walker, Son of founder, Rev. Walker, and Cherise Ayers, daughter of founder Grant West to the Walker|West Board of Directors.
If you’re looking for a new podcast, tune into Keepin On’, which focuses on the journey of aging and the power of music through it all. Season 2 coming soon.
Quite recently, the Star tribute featured David Smith, a budding musician and student at University of Minnesota, and a previous student of Walker|West under Mr. Duncan. We congratulate his recognition, and wish him future success!
With your support, we are able to provide music education to all. Our programs, performances, recitals, and camps are made possible through funding support from our partners and individuals like you. We appreciate your contributions, as they help us grow through music as a community. If you would like to make a one-time or monthly gift, visit our website. You help us propel our work forward. Thank you!
Get into the Gospel Life: Gospel According to Jazz
As we have stated before, there is a necessity for the music and its healing power especially in these current times. It’s vital to our mission to showcase the African American experience, and what better way to do that, than with performances by faculty and friends of Walker|West. For the first three Sunday’s in August, Walker|West partners with Liberty Community Church in Minneapolis to provide gospel performances expressed through Jazz techniques. Join us in person, or virtually for this series.
Get ready for the biggest and best Rondo Community Music Series yet!
Beginning in September, we have a stellar line-up that includes the Give Get Sistet, Gerard Ahlgren, Jack Barrett, and so many more! Performances will be available for virtual viewing via Crowdcast, and if you know you know! Encourage your family and friends to tune in. Every performance to date has been powerful and memorable. Stay connected for more information, and check our events calendar on our website to make sure you don’t miss your favorite artists!
Students at a dress rehearsal for their Walker West Without Walls Initiative Music & Me performance at Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary. For 6 weeks Walker|West teaching artist Chadwick Phillips worked with these talented students on the art of Hip-Hop and Poetry on Thursday mornings.
Building a bold future
While it seems that spring is fading quickly, at Walker|West, we’re just getting warmed up! As we look ahead into the next big phase for our organization, the power of music gives us more than enough room to gather, and grow with intention. Continue reading as we explore the strong community and funding partnerships that propel our work.
Can you help us tell the MN Legislature about Walker|West?
Walker|West could receive up to $5.4M through a one time appropriation bill (HF 4197) to use as a capital investment for our new facility. Securing funding for a new site is the cornerstone of our current capital campaign. The bill is likely to be voted on by May 23, 2022. We could use your support to let the MN Legislature know about the power of music and the Walker|West mission.
Here’s what you can do:
Calling your local legislatorsis always a great start, however, there’s a handful of legislators we think may not already know about our work. We want to make sure they hear about how our 34 year-old, culturally rooted and responsive community music school is doing the work. Creating space for K-12 students and everyone to gather, explore, and grow through music.
When you have a moment give them a call and tell them why you support Walker|West!
Here’s why Walker|West is a great candidate for this capital investment
With our strategic direction and capital campaign, we’re committed to youth music education access and building more community centered space for wider and deeper connection. As a Regional Cultural Treasure, we are engaging students and families close by (with lessons, and school residencies), around the nation and even internationally (with virtual instruction, concerts, and other community partnerships)!
We have the experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to continue bringing the benefits of music education to K-12 students and students of all ages –from infants to elders.
On April 10th, Walker|West had the pleasure of welcoming composer, performer, and social justice artist, Anthony R. Green for a very special discussion/Q & A in the performance hall.
Mr. Green played piano, sang, and engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on everything from copyright law to the struggle of finding places to do laundry while on the road. Mr. Green spoke in depth about the creation of the special piece played by our Kamoinge String Ensemble with Artaria String Quartet this past February. He also shared a bit about the process of composing over 200 other original compositions.
Thank you to Anthony R. Green for sharing your beautiful music, thoughtful responses to our many questions, good humor and words of encouragement! We hope you visit again soon.
Here’s a look at some of the major support we received this quarter:
Best Buy Foundation (Operating)
Elmer & Eleanor Anderson (Operating)
Mardag Foundation (Operating)
Minnesota Humanities Center (Amazing Grace Chorus)
Star Tribune/MPR Connect Grant (Marketing Support)
Stevens Family (Capital Campaign)
U.S. Bank Foundation (Operating)
Special thank you to the Stevens Family! With an exciting lead gift of $250,000 for the Walker|West Capital campaign, the entire Stevens family wants more people to know about the impact of our community music school. With 3 generations of family members involved with Walker|West since our early years, their commitment to our mission serves as a testament to how music brings us all together.
To make a major gift, or to learn more about how to participate in our capital campaign contact: Braxton Haulcy, Executive Director (email@example.com).
Ta-Coumba T. Aiken wins Guggenheim One of the best things about being rooted in the historic Rondo community is the connections we have with prolific creators like Ta-Coumba T. Aiken. When we moved to our facility at 760 Selby an original piece of art from Ta-Coumba was commissioned and can be seen adorning the outside of our space today. We’re so proud to be connected with this local artist, and even more proud of the well-deserved recognition he’s received with this award.
Over the past year we’ve slowly eased our way back to in-person student recitals thanks to Lutheran Church of the Redeemer a few blocks away on Dale Street. By allowing use of their beautiful and spacious sanctuary, we’ve been able to come together and celebrate the hard work of our students and teaching artists, free of those often pesky Zoom glitches, and the occasional younger sibling photobombing in the background.
April 4th was extra special, as we came together in Walker|West’s very own performance hall at our home base on 760 Selby Avenue for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
The recital featured students of Walker|West teaching artists, Jack Barrett, Andrew Griffin, Franco Holder, Felix James, Elisha Phillip and Pieter Swart, (who brought along one of the newest little members of the Walker|West community to work).
Excellent work students and teachers!
Certificate in Music Production Program – Hamline Partnership
Here at Walker|West we continue to expand and adapt to a changing musical landscape. Our Digital Music Production program is now partnered with Hamline University for an out-of-school time program which sets the stage for continuing professional development after high school.
At the college level, the Certificate in Music Production offered at Hamline is a 12-credit, 6-course curriculum, with three courses offered each fall and spring. Jeff Bailey, Hamline faculty member, program director and Walker|West board member, will work with high school students 1 day per week throughout the school year.
Currently, students who are at least a junior in high school up to the age of 21 can participate. High school students with a solid GPA will even receive transcript credit for their work.
This program is meant for those looking to pursue a career in digital music production (DMP). It’s an immersive experience that has several career pathways to include Music Creator, Theater Sound Design, TV Commercials or Jingle Writer and more. With the partnership, you have an opportunity to build a career that can take you down a multitude of musical paths and cultivate new opportunities for those looking to break into the music business.
For more information about this special program or about Digital Music Production at Walker|West please contact Student Services:firstname.lastname@example.org
Support Walker|West Music Academy
We’re sustaining music education access and programming with your help and your future contributions give us new opportunities to amplify our mission! Thank you for your continued investment in the healing power and the necessity of music.
Last fall, Walker|West teaching artist Brother Ghana Mbaye worked with 5th – 8th grade students from St. Peter Claver Catholic School, during a 10-week residency as part of our #WalkerWestWithoutWalls initiative. Students learned African drumming, had vocal coaching, practiced dance moves, and honed their storytelling skills. The culmination of all that hard work: a Christmas Pageant in the St. Peter Claver sanctuary –with a live audience of their younger classmates and a virtual audience of family members.
Let’s Stay Together
We are once again confronting the abhorrent truth of police violence in the Twin Cities. So many hearts are aching from watching and enduring similar local and national events, but we hold hope that change is on the horizon. We value how music brings us together, even in troubled times. We are glad to have you on this journey with us, as we do our part to create bold futures with peace and equity. Music is healing, music is restorative, and music brings us closer to each other at all times. Let’s do our best to care for, support and lend love to those in our communities who need it most, “whether times are good, bad, happy or sad,” we’re better together.
The new year brings new opportunities to gather, explore, and grow. We’re cultivating community partnerships for music learners of all ages and backgrounds to find joy, healing, and success.
In this Winter Newsletter, you’ll hear how we gathered to close out last year and how we’re beginning anew. Follow along to learn what we’ve been working on.
Kamoinge String Ensemble & Artaria String Quartet
Side-by-side with the Artaria String Quartet, Walker|West’s Kamoinge String Ensemble (with Artaria Chamber Music School students) performed a new composition by composer Anthony R. Green,entitled “The Joy Diptych.” This concert was part of the Artaria String Quartet’s Sundin Music Hall Concert Series.
This piece was created for this collaboration, in celebration of Black classical composers through time. With music from Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson & William Grant Still. The series concludes in March.
Artist PaviElle French Launches Residency in St. Paul (Walker|West In Partnership)
American Composers Forum (ACF) is excited to announce “Liberation! Lifting up our Youth:” a multi-part residency led by artist and St. Paul native PaviElle French and six St. Paul-based arts organizations. Developed from a desire to empower the young people of the community, French will pursue activities over the next nine months that include workshops, commissions, and performances.
The focus of the residency will be on “lifting up our youth” to connect, express themselves, and share their thoughts through music. The six participating organizations include: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Walker | West Academy, Schubert Club, Purple Playground, TruArtSpeaks, and American Composers Forum.
The long-awaited return of in-person piano recitals came just before the new semester, held at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. The large sanctuary provided the perfect place to safely enjoy two outstanding recitals featuring students from all the studios and all of our piano instructors.
For some students, it was both a first recital and first time meeting teachers in person. For others who have continued virtually throughout the pandemic, it was wonderful to see how they have adapted and continued to grow as musicians.
As a special “Welcome Back”, students were treated to some awesome performances by their teachers. Thanks to all the students, parents, teaching artists AND Lutheran Church of the Redeemer for hosting us in their beautiful sanctuary.
“St. Paul music academy to expand its dementia-friendly chorus” – Walker|West’s Amazing Grace Chorus on MPR. Read More.
“Grants highlight work of Minnesota groups serving those with Alzheimer’s and dementia” – Amazing Grace Chorus on MinnPost. Read More.
See our students highlighted in the Roderick Cox Initiative newsletter, for their brilliance and scholarship. Read more.
Stay Digital, Friends
The new session for Digital Music Production at Walker|West is underway! Students ages 13-21 are receiving tuition-free instruction in skills that are the future of music. DMP is funded by the FS Foundation covers mixing, mastering, audio recording, engineering, and more. If your student is interested in this program (the next session begins May 2022), please connect with Student Services (email@example.com).
Please don’t stop the music: Closing Out Last Year with the Rondo Community Music Series
At Walker|West music is always the perfect git, just before the holidays we held our annual music series. From October – mid December we put joy, community, and powerful artistic expression centerstage. With guests like Tish Jones, Malamanya and the LA Buckner Band – we were blown away and they brought down the virtual house.
This series is one of our favorite ways to bring music and culture to our community, healing and a place to gather, whether in-person or virtual. Did you miss one of the shows?
Students at neighborhood schools have been enjoying the benefits of music brought directly to them with our public school residencies programming. From the savvy students at St. Peter Claver School pictured in the cover photo to the sensational students at Avalon Charter School.
We’ve been energized by this in-school music education initiative and are excited to share that our, Music and Me series, hosted by Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary scholar (and Walker|West student) Anaiya Wilson has returned for Season #2.
If you’re looking for more music content in your life, then look no further than our Youtube Channel. Watch recitals, virtual concert performances, and see some of our favorite moments we’ve captured over the years. You can even binge all episodes of our, “Keepin’ On” podcast using the device of your choice. There’s something for everyone to enjoy!
Forever Growing through Music: Support Walker|West Music Academy
Your support for Walker|West has not gone unnoticed! Last November, you gave to the max, helping us to reach our instrument repair goal. You showed how community strengthens community with your year end gifts. You are helping us to build momentum in the new year as monthly givers. We’re sustaining music education access and programming with your help and your future contributions give us new opportunities to amplify our mission!
We thank you for your continued investment in the healing power and the necessity of music.