Local music organizations offer music lesson scholarships to middle and high school students

A girl plays guitar at Breckenridge Music's Kid Fest on July 28, 2018.
Photo by Joe Kusumoto / Breckenridge Music

The National Repertory Orchestra and Breckenridge Music are offering subsidized private music lessons to middle and high school students through a new scholarship program, which aims to remove financial barriers for students and provide work for local musicians.

National Repertory Orchestra CEO Dave DePeters said the idea for the program came from music teachers at local schools.

“We went to them and said, ‘What is it that we can do for you that will support your program, and how can we best serve you and the community through the music program?’ And this is what they asked us to do,” DePeters said.

According to a news release from the two organizations, after-school music lessons will include piano, voice, guitar, violin, cello, flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and percussion for students who are already engaged in a music program. A volunteer committee will review applications and award scholarships based on need. DePeters said the organizations also will work to ensure students have access to the internet, technology and any other equipment they might need to participate.

“I really believe that music teaches all sorts of skills that are necessary in life,” DePeters said. “You’re learning problem-solving skills. When you play with other kids, you’re learning teamwork. You’re learning all these social and emotional skills. You’re learning success, all of these things that will help you in future endeavors. So we feel really strongly that supporting that effort by the school kids here to learn an instrument, we’re actually teaching them more than just that instrument; we’re teaching them life lessons.”

Tamara Nuzzaci Park, executive director of Breckenridge Music, said that for the past 10-20 years, the organization has hosted a workshop or assemblies throughout the year in public schools in Summit, Park and Lake counties to enhance music curriculum. This year, school assemblies haven’t been possible, which is why Nuzzaci Park said diving into the program made sense.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for families to make music a meaningful part of their daily lives,” Nuzzaci Park said. “And because music uplifts us, it relieves us, specifically in this time of social isolation. We believe that it’s a way that we can make lives better here in our community and give our kids a sense of focus and achievement and discipline.”

Music teacher Shane Werts, who will teach students as part of the program, said he originally proposed the idea in December of sponsoring music-minded students who might not be able to fund their own lessons. As a Summit County native, Werts felt while growing up that there weren’t as many opportunities for music in school as there could be.

“There aren’t a ton of music teachers in the area, and there are all these amazing classical music opportunities between Aspen, Vail and (National Repertory Orchestra),” Werts said. “Colorado just has so many things going on, but there’s not a whole lot of connection with the schools and kids being able to get more connected with music that way. It is a very outdoorsy and athletically minded population up here, which is awesome, but I think classical music has its own place.”

Nuzzaci Park said the organizations’ secondary priority is to provide work for performing artists and musicians through the program, so they are partnering with local music teachers and other musicians who are interested in teaching.

Nuzzaci Park said Breckenridge Music and National Repertory Orchestra will assess interest in the program and consider bringing it back year after year.

The program will run from March 8 through May 28, and interested students can apply through 5 p.m. Feb. 19. Applications are available at and Lessons are 30 minutes to one hour.

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