Let’s Play’s Music Education Program gives children the opportunity to learn how to play a guitar & mold their characters through music.
Music touches people in every stage of life. From the moment a mother hums a lovely lullaby to her baby, to the youth finding emotional sanctuary from songs on their playlist, and all the way to folks reminiscing their best days through some good old classics, music has a way of making experiences more memorable. It describes our thoughts and feelings in ways words can’t. It transports our minds and souls to a world where we can connect to our inner selves.
Indeed, the world needs music. Every person deserves the sound of music and every child deserves the chance to play a musical instrument. But in times when instrumental music programs are shrinking and being threatened due to budget constraints and lack of interest, what’s ideal is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are still people who have big hearts working towards a noble cause, like Kasper Hansen, founder of Let’s Play, a Music Education Program. During our visit to Malabon National High School, we sat down and talked to Kasper so he could shed more light about the program and how it’s 1st sponsor, Booth and Partners, will be helping its cause.
Can you give us a little background about yourself and the organization/project?
I am originally from Denmark and have played music for as long as I can remember. My wife’s mother is from the Philippines so we have been visiting Manila frequently.
I know the benefits of music education and I see all these kids in the Philippines who grow up in a culture where music is in the blood, but they don’t have the resources to learn to play an instrument. Then you add all the incredible amount of high quality educational material that is currently available online and that’s when I came up with the idea: We give instruments and laptops to schools and then the kids who are motivated will have the chance to learn to play.
At the end of last year, I was fortunate to get introduced to the Mayor of Malabon and his wife. They loved the idea and introduced me to the principal and staff at Malabon National High School.
In April this year, we ran a pilot with them. We picked 20 students, I bought them 10 guitars and gave them a used laptop with almost 100 video tutorials from www.justinguitar.com. I also left them with a video camera so they could record their progress. During the summer holiday they practiced 4 hours a day for 5 weeks. The students loved it and many came in early and stayed late to practice more. The results were amazing and they were able to perform complete songs at the end of the 5 weeks.
What I like about the programme is that there is no ongoing maintenance costs. Nobody gets paid a salary. Once a school is set up with instruments and computers they are self-sufficient and they can continue the programme without further support. That means that any donation will provide incremental benefit for this community.
Students who participate in the programme commit to help coach and mentor the next batch of students. I want them to give back and have a stake in the success of the programme.
We are not a charity in the sense of giving free handouts. We provide these kids with the chance to develop a skill and unlock a little bit of their potential. They do most of the work. How far they will go us up to them. We just give them enough tools to get started.
Who are the people behind the project?
I have done most of the work but I get help from a lot of people. Family members and friends have donated money, given advice, shared their network, you name it. I have reached out to people who have set up music schools or are music teachers and they have been so generous with advice and have helped me prevent making a lot of mistakes along the way.
Booth and Partners have just come on board and that is really exciting news for us. They will help with accounting, social media, marketing, IT and other practical and operational issues.
What are the main obstacles that stand between you and your mission, and what part will Booth & Partners play?
The first one is time. I have a full-time job and two young kids so I don’t work on Let’s Play until after they go to bed. Having more resources available makes a big difference.
The second challenge is location. I live in Singapore and currently make most decisions remotely. It is really useful to have someone on the ground who can visit the schools, contact suppliers etc.
Working with Booth and Partners solves my biggest challenges. Booth and Partners doesn’t just execute my decisions. They are also my sounding board and offer a valuable local view. Most important, I trust them wholeheartedly and know that they will get things done.
Where does most of your funding come from?
The first batch of instruments was funded by myself. I don’t think I am in a position to expect other people to contribute unless I have taken the first few steps. I have already received a fair amount of financial donations and instruments from friends and family. Moving forward I also hope to receive donations from corporations, but it might take some more time.
I feel a heavy responsibility spending other people’s money so my commitment is that 100% of funds raised will be spent on musical instruments and tutorial material. Any other admin, marketing or operational costs will be covered by myself or my partners. It forces us to be lean and efficient.
In this fast-paced world and techie society, how does your organization’s mission make a difference?
The fundamental idea is really about giving these students a chance to apply their natural talents, practice in a systematic manner and excel at something. I picked music because I feel it is inspirational and can give you a sense of achievement and worthiness. Playing with others forces you to collaborate and listen and practicing in a group with a common goal can create very strong interpersonal bonds.
Whether or not they pursue it and become musicians is not important to me. I want them to learn what they are capable of, realize that sometimes they can achieve more than they could imagine and – most importantly – have fun. Technology just enables me to do it in a way that is cost efficient and scalable.
Is this a long-term project or is there a set number of years to it?
This is a long-term project. Right now, I am focusing on getting the model right in Malabon National High School and providing them with great facilities. Later, I hope to extend the programme to other schools and institutions in Malabon and eventually other cities.
How do you plan to keep your supporters up to date about your work?
We will use Facebook and Youtube as the main platforms. In addition, we will prepare annual reports that provide full transparency on what has been donated and how it has been spent.
How can people get more involved in this project?
One easy way to help out is to follow us on Facebook and leave a positive comment. It seems like a small thing, but it can give the students a boost if they know there are people out there supporting their efforts. Another way is obviously donations. We are primarily looking for used laptops, guitars and financial donations. Host a dinner party for your friends, do a garage sale, convince your class or colleagues to do a fundraising activity… there are many ways to do it, but it takes effort.
People can contact us via our Facebook page if they want to contribute or have any ideas or suggestions for us.
Music gravitates us to connect, explore and inspire. Help the students of Malabon High School experience the life changing benefits of music by supporting Let’s Play. If you have guitars in your attic or any musical instrument that hasn’t been used in a while and only gathering dust, feel free to donate them to Let’s Play. They also accept laptop donations.
For more information, updates and contact details, you may check their Facebook Page here.