A local non-profit is using music to keep underserved youth in South King County inspired to keep playing.
Dr. Quinton Morris is a professor at Seattle University and the executive director and founder of Key To Change. The goal of the nonprofit is to provide personal music instruction to students who otherwise wouldn’t have this opportunity – something Morris dealt with growing up.
“I know firsthand that students don’t have access to a lot of music instruction beyond their school orchestra,” Dr. Morris said. “I remember having to go to the UW and take lessons there.”
Dr. Morris, who is from Renton, said he wanted to make a positive impact on his community and started the nonprofit to give students something he didn’t always have – access.
“We need to make sure when we say ‘access,’ we provide the access. So, we have instruments to give to students who may not have their own instruments or an instrument that produces the tone they like.”
The non-profit also provides scholarships for students who may not be able to pay, as well as supplies for their instruments too.
Key To Change came at the perfect time for Adriana Najera, an upcoming junior at Lindberg High School.
“I was on the brink of quitting when I found Key To Change,” Najera said. “It basically brought me back from the edge of quitting what I love just because I didn’t have other people who were my support.”
Najera said after moving from West Seattle, she felt her musical education wasn’t as well rounded as it should have been and she lost motivation to play the viola.
“When I found Key To Change, it really brought that back and made my motivation much stronger,” she said.
Najera has been working with Dr. Morris for a little over a year and said together they are making really good progress. She said she is grateful for the opportunity.
“I know a lot of people don’t have chances like this and it was just kind of a one in a million-type thing,” Najera said, “I just feel really lucky that it was me.”
Dr. Morris said his group instructs about 25 students right now and wants to make sure his students are successful in whatever they choose to do.
“Music is the vehicle that’s kind of directed my life, and whether it’s been me on stage or in the classroom that has been what has led to my success and if I can use that vehicle of music to help inspire others, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The ability to offer personalized lessons was something Fernando David Amador, a 16-year-old at Kent Meridian High School who plays the violin; he begged his parents to let him do.
“I told him I want lessons, but I don’t have the money, and I don’t know how much you cost, and he said don’t worry about it.”
Amador said he, much like Adriana, almost gave up playing the violin, an instrument he started playing in the seventh grade.
“I didn’t feel as confident in my playing,” Amador said.
Quitting though was not an option with Dr. Morris.
“Dr. Quinton Morris won’t let you quit, you always have the option, but Mr. Morris will say you can do this, you have a lot of potential.”
Amador said he considers Dr. Morris, more than just his instructor.
“I look at him like more of a mentor, and from someone who didn’t really have that sort of person growing up or even in high school, I was just really happy that I found someone who was willing to share their wisdom on me,” he said.
Both Amador and Najera are continuing their lessons from Dr. Morris. If you are a student in South King County and are interested in learning more about Key To Change, visit their website