Non-profit sends two Bronx students to world-class music program

Bronx Compass High School students (l-r) Luis Taveras and Roselyn Reyes with Dr. Bryan Powell, director of Programs of Amp Up NYC at the Berklee 5-Week Summer Performance Program.
Photo courtesy of Berklee College of Music

Two Bronx students got the opportunity of a lifetime thanks to a music education non-profit that is amping up its efforts throughout the city.

Roselyn Reyes and Luis Taveras, rising juniors at Bronx Compass High School in Castle Hill, attended Berklee College of Music’s five-week summer program on a full scholarship. The scholarships were provided by Amp Up NYC, an initiative of national organization Little Kids Rock.

The Berklee experience

Reyes and Taveras, both electric bass players, were encouraged to audition for the program by their music teacher, Anthony Di Masso. They said they were grateful for the encouragement because their experience at Berklee was a great one.

Taveras said he enjoyed being surrounded by so many like-minded musicians, and was inspired by the incredible bass players they were exposed to. Reyes said she was excited to meet other female bass players through the program.

“It’s really amazing to be surrounded by all of that,” said Taveras.

“I felt like it was a family,” said Reyes.

They both said they’d like to go back to the program next summer, and plan on applying to Berklee for college.

Beyond the improvement in their music, the experience away at Berklee seemed to allow them to grow personally said Di Masso.

“When I visited them it seemed like they had matured four years in just four weeks,” said Di Masso.

Amp Up NYC

The scholarships were part of the Amp UP NYC initiative, a partnership between Little Kids Rock, the NYC Department of Education and Berklee College of Music, which will bring “modern band” programs to 600 NYC public schools in three years, said spokesman Keith Hejna.

Little Kids Rock outfits music classrooms with the equipment to play popular music, including keyboard, bass guitars, guitars, drums, and computers and other equipment, said Hejna, with the idea of engaging kids by giving them tools to play music they already know and love.

“Anything we can do to get kids making music and tapping into thier creativity, we feel is valuable,” said Hejna. “The kids that really grab onto music, they start by playing what they like to listen to.”

Di Masso got involved with Little Kids Rock seven years ago, and said the range of instruments provided by Little Kids Rock gives his students room to experiment and find their niche.

“They have access to try out a lot of different things,” he said.

And when students get engaged in music, it can help them come out of their shell socially, while at the same time teaching them discipline, said Di Masso. Starting with the music they like is the first step to getting students engaged.

“When you have that much interest going in, you get that much more out of it,” said Di Masso.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwill‌iams@‌cnglo‌

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