Walker West Music Academy

Focus Area: Early Childhood

Grant Amount: $10,000

Based in St. Paul, serves St. Paul and Minneapolis. Established in 1988, Walker West may be the oldest community music school in the nation founded by African American musicians. It is an out-of-school-time, nonprofit music school that teaches instrumental and vocal music to students ages 5 to adult. It teaches all styles of music, but is especially well-known for jazz, gospel, and other styles of improvisational music. It provides affordable, quality music instruction inspired by the African American cultural experience. Many of its students have gone on to study at top music conservatories and perform professionally.

Grant supports expansion of a new Afrocentric early childhood music program, which launched in fall 2022 at the Mary T. Wellcome Center in north Minneapolis, and this year will expand to the Hallie Q. Brown Center in St. Paul. Their original early childhood music program was developed with MacPhail Center for Music, using MacPhail’s curriculum at the Mary T. Wellcome Child Development Center in north Minneapolis. The new program was developed by a teaching artist from MacPhail who came to Walker West to create this program. Through songs, playing instruments, creative movement, visual arts, and literature, children learn about musical concepts and also boost their social-emotional development.