‘Kidznotes’ program gives Durham students free orchestra training

May 6, 2019

A local music program called Kidznotes has helped two Durham students get to Los Angeles to perform in a national youth orchestra.

After a full day of school, a group of students between the ages 8 to 18 study music with Kidznotes, a nonprofit organization that offers free, intensive music training.

Nick Malinowski, the director of Kidznotes, describes it as a social change movement. “These were students had the smallest number of resources -- and the greatest need,” Malinowski said, adding that learning classical music in an ensemble is the key to success.

“The orchestra is the only group that comes together for the soul purpose of agreeing with itself,” Malinowski said. “Where they have to listen to each other, learn from each other. It’s a microcosm of a good society.”

Becoming proficient on the cello taught 15-year-old Marcus Gee a valuable lesson.

“You have to work hard if you want to achieve something,” said Gee, who has been “principal cellist” in a youth orchestra national festival in Los Angeles for the past two years. This year, he’ll return for a third time.

Sixteen-year-old Kiarra Truitt-Martin will join Gee in Los Angeles this year. The two agree -- the Kidznotes program targets more than just success in music. It triggers success in college, in careers and in life.

“In New York, I’ve been able to travel so much, and it’s been so amazing,” Truitt-Martin said.

“The outcomes we’re actually most interested in have to do with things that we know affect long term success,” Malinowski said.

Kidznotes is based around the “El Systema” international movement that started in Venezuela in the mid-1970s to give kids orchestra experience.

Locally, the program is available in three counties across the Triangle area. You can learn more about Kidznotes online.