Yamaha Cares Helps Nurture Development of Young Girls With Orange County Music Outreach Program

3/6/2009 [Marching Instruments]

Yamaha Teams with Remo and Newport Beach YMCA Program

BUENA PARK, Calif. — When Karl Bruhn, widely recognized as the "Father of Recreational Music Making," made a presentation at a One Yamaha meeting last year at the Company's headquarters in Buena Park, it sparked an idea in longtime Yamaha employee Laurene Keane. Along with her daughter Laura Mackenzie, Keane participates in Y-Maidens, a YMCA-sponsored mother-daughter organization for girls from kindergarten through fourth grade.

Yamaha Teams with Remo and Newport Beach YMCA
Anika Sevier, Laura Mackenzie and Laurene Keane
"As Karl described the drum circles I realized that they aligned perfectly with the goals of the Y-Maidens program, which include modeling teamwork, building community and respect for leadership," said Keane.

Having participated in the program for five years, Keane and her daughter were elected co-princesses of the Y-Maidens' Kahnee Ta Nation, which has helped Orange County mothers and daughters build stronger relationships for nearly five decades. As co-princesses, one of their key leadership goals "was to bring music to the nation this year."

Using Native American Culture as a teaching tool, Y-Maidens presents folklore tales that provide positive examples for mothers and daughters. Y-Maidens is meant to develop poise and self confidence, cooperation and public speaking skills. Together, girls and their mothers attend meetings, enjoy outings and crafts, donate their time to social services and participate in tribal activities to foster deeper relationships.

So Keane enlisted Yamaha Cares and partner Remo Inc. to donate equipment for a drum circle program, including drums, shakers, tambourines, bells and blocks. A drum circle is any group of people playing hand drums and percussion together. No technique or prior knowledge is necessary; the goal is simply to have fun playing together and create good grooves. A trained facilitator guides and encourages participants with a focus on communication and the musical connection.

"Lots of great themes are explored during the drum circles, including team building, respect and support," said John Fitzgerald, who facilitated the drum circle events along with his working partner Jerry Zacarias at Camp Marston in Julian, Calif. for the Y-Maidens. "At Remo, we advocate drumming for all kinds of life styles, not just for music making. It can be a tool used for individual empowerment and community building."

"The drum circles were the highlight of the camp," said Keane, who found it especially gratifying that she could "show my daughter that if you have an idea, you can go out and make it happen."

Each participating family also received a commemorative DVD, courtesy of Yamaha Cares. Moving forward, the goal is to spread drumming to all 10 YMCA nations, including Y-Guides, Y-Princesses and Y-Maidens.

Yamaha Teams with Remo and Newport Beach YMCA
Remo's John Fitzgerald leads a Y-Maidens drum circle at Camp Marston.
"This was a great collaboration between Remo, Yamaha and Camp Marston," said Rick Young, Senior Vice President at Yamaha. "To see the creativity and leadership displayed by these young girls, as well as the relationships with their mothers, is very inspiring."

Said Fitzgerald, "Camp Marston was great; there was so much creativity. The participants had such a sense of connection with each other. Important themes of respect, responsibility, empowerment, non judgment and inclusion were explored. It was inspiring."

Camp Marston's success made it clear there was a strong interest in continuing drum circles. In early January, Remo donated one day of training to the Y-Maidens. "We want to see if we can facilitate enough skill in the community to let people build and sustain interest and participation in drum circles," said Fitzgerald.

On February 28, during Kahnee Ta's annual Snow Camp weekend, Kahnee Ta members' skills were put to the test when they facilitate for their own drum circles at Camp Arbolado with Remo's Mike Demenno lending support and mentorship that day.

"It's been great to bring recreational music activities to Y-Maidens," said Keane. "It was a wonderful opportunity for Yamaha Cares to lend their support."

An employee-based initiative dedicated to charitable works, Yamaha Cares has a dual purpose of spreading the gift of music as well as promoting education, arts and community development in the places where Yamaha employees live and work.

Yamaha Cares is active in fundraising efforts for many other Southern California programs, including the Special Olympics, college music scholarships, The Boys and Girls Club, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Make a Wish Foundation, Families of Camp Pendleton, Orange County Food Bank and Toys For Tots, to name just a few.

For more information on Yamaha Cares, visit www.yamaha.com/yamahacares, or write Yamaha Corporation of America, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622; telephone (714) 522-9011; or e-mail infostation@yamaha.com.

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© 2009 Yamaha Corporation of America

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