Music can be a very powerful thing. If used correctly it can build bridges, change communities and create stars. Notes for Notes is a non-profit organization that harnesses the power of music to help children all over the country. By placing music studio equipment and well-trained instructors in Boys & Girls Clubs, Notes for Notes gives kids a place to learn and explore music without censorship. Their dedication to impact communities through creative outlets has earned them a spot among six other A3C Action finalists.
Many of the children that participate in Notes for Notes come from households that may not always be stable. The city of Atlanta ranks 5th among cities with high concentrated poverty levels, according to NPR. Due to lack of access to good food education and health services, children raised in areas with high levels of poverty are more likely to have behavior issues and less likely to finish school.
Jen Hodges, the regional director for Notes for Notes Atlanta, learned the magic of exposing kids to music at a young age. Hodges began playing piano at the age of six, and eventually picked up bass guitar after falling in love with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. In high school she joined a band that received several positive reviews from local publications. Hodges credits music for helping her survive the teen angst that plagues many young adults.
“Music really helped me through those awkward years,” Hodges said. “It gave me an outlet to be weird.”
Now Hodges is responsible for giving that same outlet to kids as she teaches, records and produces for participants in the Notes for Notes program. She says she gets to see the effects the music can have on the program participants in real time.
“There are times where I can come in and a kid might be angry. Maybe he had a bad day. They will show up to the [Boys & Girls] club and be about to get into a fight,” Hodges said. “ You pull them into the booth, let them say whatever they want. When they come out they always feel better.
“If we can make one youth's day better in the studio, we’ve done our job. If they can leave the studio with a smile on their face, we’ve done our job. They never leave angry or frustrated.”
Working with the youth of Atlanta places Hodges right in the center of one of the most productive hip-hop culture hubs. The Atlanta Notes for Notes studio is located inside of the Joseph B. Whitehead Boys & Girls Club, in the Lakewood Heights Neighborhood. It rests just around the corner from the original location of the Dungeon--a basement studio that helped the Dungeon Family cement their legacy. Hodges says the location serves as a great backdrop to inspire her kids as many of them push to follow in the steps of so many Atlanta rappers before them.
A3C Action is a competition that awards organizations that employ art, music and hip-hop culture to advance social justice and engagement in underserved communities. Notes for Notes and six other finalists are competing for an opportunity to win $10,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.
Check out some of the music kids from the program have made below.