Merissa Li and Jamie Yin want to give Surrey children a chance to be more musical.
The friends have co-founded a charitable program called Find Your Forte, which offers free piano lessons to kids in the foster-care system and those in low-income families.
Weekly half-hour lessons, for both beginners and intermediate players, are offered every Saturday at Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church, and new students are sought.
The non-profit program, online at findyourforte.ca, began life as a talk between Li and Yin about their shared passion for playing and teaching piano.
Since childhood, Li and Yin “have been fortunate enough to receive quality music education, and because it has had such a positive impact on our lives, we would like to give back to our community,” notes the program website. “This idea has been sitting in the back of our minds individually for years, but only recently transformed into reality by working in collaboration with one another.”
Starting out, kids in foster care were offered the free lessons, but that plan has evolved to include others, with the help of administrator Iris Lee and IT/media director Matthew Wang.
“We are looking to accept students from low-income families as well,” said Li, 18, a Fraser Heights-area resident and recent graduate of Pacific Academy. “We have the means and the resources to offer free weekly musical lessons to them, but are looking for a way to reach these families and spread the news.”
Kids aged five to 18 are welcome to register for the lessons.
“Having a piano or keyboard at home is crucial to success in music due to the necessity of daily practice and is therefore mandatory,” notes a post under the website’s Frequently Asked Questions section. “Keyboards can be rented from Long and McQuade for a very nominal price. There are always free pianos available on Craigslist as well.”
Also, the website explains, “Parents are responsible for providing the required music lesson books for their children.
“There will be a year-end recital in June (date TBD) and all students are encouraged to participate.”