Faces of Kansas City: Local musician spreads love of music - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Faces of Kansas City: Local musician spreads love of music to students

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Music class in elementary school used to be a given, but in an effort to save money, some schools have cut back or eliminated their music programs. But a local musician is trying to change that.

The Upper Room is a local nonprofit that emphasizes education for low-income students. What the group's music director is doing for young local kids is music to people's ears.

Greg Richter says one of the best ways to get the attention of a child is to read to them. Once the book is finished, Richter moves to music.

Richter is the musical director for the Eddie Baker School of Music, which is part of the Upper Room. He says his goal is simple.

"We are trying to pass on Kansas City music and the art of playing traditional instruments," he said.

Richter is a talented musician himself.

"I got to play with Cab Calloway, Thelonius Monk's saxophonist. I got to play with giants of music," he said.

He now strives to pass his passion for music on to the next generation which, in this case, is a spirited group of kindergartners and first-graders at Hogan Preparatory Academy's elementary school.

"Do I really have this job? I get to come in here and teach all these kids and they like it. It's great," Richter said.

The Upper Room's music program works with all ages of school kids and a few of Richter's students recently performed at a recital.

"From the fifth-grade band here they'll move to middle school and they'll have some skills. They'll want to be in band next year and the year after and when they get to high school," Richter said.

He said the benefits of being involved in a music program are well documented and admits that sometimes it's not even really about the music.

"A lot of times you'll have a student and they're not making much progress, but you can feel how important that music lesson is to them. They're getting one-on-one time with an adult who cares about what they do. That's huge and that's probably the main benefit of all of this stuff," Richter said.

Richter said teaching kids music when they're young helps them to become better communicators and gives kids loads of confidence.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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