Power of Music: Pinckney Street Resident Aims to Get Word out About Community Music Center of Boston

September 13, 2011
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Bill Knowlton (right) looks on as his daughter Hope works with music instructor Kimberly Khare at the Community Music Center of Boston. (Catherine Orzel photo)

Pinckney Street resident Bill Knowlton first learned of Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB) around seven years ago during his family’s search to find an appropriate program for their autistic daughter Hope.

His wife Deb read about the South End-based non-profit in a local community newspaper and enrolled Hope, who was not yet 2 at the time, in a music therapy program under the guidance of music instructor Kimberly Khare. The music soon resonated with Hope and helped teach her how to communicate.

Hope is now a 9-year-old student at the Boston Higashi School in Randolph, where she continues to perform music and play instruments.

“I don’t think she would have done as well as she has or had the head start she did, if she didn’t attend CMCB,” Bill said.

Bill and Deb were so impressed with Hope’s progress at CMCB that they enrolled their son Peter in piano lessons there as a first grader. Today, Peter is 13 and continuing his training at CMCB. The Knowltons also plan to send their youngest daughter Hannah, 6, there to begin her music education in the near future.

Meanwhile, Bill has taken on the position of chair of CMCB’s Centennial Campaign for Legacy & Innovation.

In this role, he hopes to not only achieve the campaign goal of raising $4.5 million to continue and expand programming at CMCB, but also to raise awareness of the 101-year-old organization.

Besides offering music therapy programs and private and group instruction for people of all ages, as well as sponsoring more than 100 neighborhood concerts in 2010 alone, CMCB is the leading provider of music outreach programming with Boston Public Schools (BPS).

“The program serves 5,000 students,” Bill said. “That alone is a huge contribution to the city.”

Also, Bill said nearly 100 percent of the BPS students who participate in CMCB programs go on to college.

“This is beyond music,” Bill said. “This organization is helping kids be ambitious and see the future.”

To date, the Centennial Campaign has achieved 70 percent of its $4.5 million goal by raising $3.2 million through private donations from board members, corporate members, parents and foundations.

Later this month, CMCB will appeal to the public for its support during “Play Your Part” at the Boylston Congregational Church, 207 Amory St. in Jamaica Plain, on Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 to 5 p.m. The event, which marks the public launch of the campaign, is expected to feature appearances by Dr. Carol R. Johnson, superintendent of BPS, and elected officials, as well as music performances, Bill said.

Bill also hopes that “Play Your Part” will be a celebration of all that CMCB has to offer.

“It’s an engaging, exciting, entertaining place,” Bill said. “It’s really a one of a kind in the city.”

For more information on Community Music Center of Boston, visit http://cmcb.org.

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