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Uptown Youth Music Group Hits Right Notes With Fundraiser

By Nigel Chiwaya | May 7, 2014 12:27pm
WHIN Music Project - Orchestrating Dreams Spring 2014
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WHIN Music Project

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The beat will go on for the Washington Heights and Inwood Music Project thanks to some generous donors.

The Washington Heights-based youth music instruction group, which goes by WHIN, has successfully raised more than $6,000 to fund its afterschool, orchestral and early childhood programs for Washington Heights and the Bronx.

WHIN organizers launched an Indiegogo campaign on April 3 with the modest goal of reaching $6,500 by mid-May. But with 13 days left in the effort, the group is only about $300 short of success.

"We're very excited, said WHIN founder David Gracia. "We were debating whether $6,500 would have been too much, but it seems we could have tried for $7,000. It's exceeded our wildest expectations."

Founded in October 2012, WHIN offers roughly 130 children as many as eight hours of weekly music instruction in the popular El Sistema model, which mixes music theory with community outreach. Families are charged on a sliding scale and pay what they can afford.

"Fees are not a burden to students," Gracia said.

The program for youth as old as 23 operates an orchestra that played more than 20 concerts around city last year, including as the opening event at the 2013 Uptown Art Stroll.

WHIN has proven so popular that it's grown exponentially over the past year, doubling in the number of students it serves and starting an early childhood program in Highbridge.

But with that growth came increased expenses, like expanding its staff to 10 teachers. The funds raised online will help pay the teachers and volunteers, and fund general program activities.

"We're expanding too fast," Gracia said, "But we have to do it because there's a need."