Photo credits: Keith Myers/Kansas City Star
A certified history teacher who lives in northwestern Missouri is making a difference in the lives of many youths with what he does on the side.
Darryl Chamberlain (pictured at easel) is the founder of the A-Flat Youth Orchestra, a program that teaches school students how to play musical instruments and be part of a symphony. Many of the youths who are participating in Chamberlain’s music program come from low-income families.
Chamberlain is a connoisseur of music and the arts. He teaches his symphony orchestra classes at the St. James United Methodist Church at 5540 Wayne Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. Chamberlain is a Kansas City native who started his music program for youths in 2005.
Chamberlain embarked on this path because he wanted to do something about the troubling reality facing Kansas City, Missouri’s public schools. Many of the schools in the district could not be a part of Kansas City’s annual American Royal Parade because they had no band or orchestra that could participate.
“That bothered me. The research tells us music students have the lowest incidence of drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, in-school suspension, behavior problems, and you see the pluses in the form of math ability, spacial reasoning, abstract reasoning,” Chamberlain said in an exclusive interview with the Kansas City Star newspaper.
The energetic 59-year-old was told that he did not have the financial power to start a symphony orchestra for predominantly black youths. “People told me it couldn’t be done because it would take $300,000 to build an orchestra. I don’t have that kind of money,” Chamberlain also told the Kansas City Star.
However, Chamberlain defied the odds and used the extra money he earned on Sundays playing the organ and piano at local churches to buy instruments one at a time for his future orchestra students. To date, he owns around 70 instruments, which he rents to students who can afford to pay or lends to students who cannot pay.
Chamberlain’s inspirational story was featured on NBC’s TODAY Show earlier this month. Sheinelle Jones, a TODAY Show co-host profiled the A-Flat Orchestra during a presentation of her “Feel Good Friday” segment on August 11th. You can watch it here.