November 21, 2013 in Washington Voices

LETEM Play makes music accessible to low-income students

By The Spokesman-Review
Lisa Leinberger photo

D.G. Kim, Katy Dolan and Philip Howard hold some of the instruments donated to LETEM Play, a nonprofit organization that collects instruments for low-income students.
(Full-size photo)

Coming up

Make Music Matter

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave.

Admission: $10 suggested donation, proceeds will be split between LETEM Play and Spokane Youth Symphony


LETEM Play Takes Spokane, an event to collect instruments and donations, as well as help families fill out applications for instruments, will be at several locations Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

• North side: Heritage Square at the North Division Y

• Downtown: River Park Square, third floor

• Spokane Valley: Walgreens at Sprague and Sullivan

• Liberty Lake: Walgreens

For more information and updates, visit

Music students at Central Valley High School want every student exposed to music, no matter their circumstances.

Katy Dolan and Philip Howard, seniors at CV, have been heading up LETEM Play (formerly Life Enhancement Through Education in Music), a nonprofit organization they founded, for about two years.

“We don’t necessarily use that (name) anymore,” Dolan said. “It’s much too complicated.”

When they began, they wanted to collect donations of musical instruments for low-income students interested in playing. Since forming, the two have collected and distributed $13,000 worth of instruments. They have also added music clinics to their mission. The two received their official nonprofit 501(c)(3) status in February 2012.

Howard said they have held clinics at the Northeast Youth Center in Hillyard and the East Central Community Center. He estimated that 300 to 400 kids have come by to learn about music.

Dolan, who plays the flute, said the clinics include an instrument petting zoo – kids can pick up an instrument and try to play them and they show kids, most of them between 6 and 8 years old, the connection between the music they hear on the radio and the music they can play. They talk about the connection between math and music. They ask children to listen to music and draw or write.

“It’s really fun,” Dolan said. The clinics are run by high school music students.

Howard, a saxophone player, said for low-income students who may have turbulent or inconsistent home lives, music gives them something to hold on to.

Dolan and Howard teamed up with D.G. Kim, another senior CV music student, for Make Music Matter, a concert to benefit both LETEM Play and the Spokane Youth Symphony.

Kim, a cellist who has been with Spokane Youth Symphony for 10 years, said the concert features a 40-piece orchestra made up of both professional and student musicians. The program includes music from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Dmitri Shostakovich, Antonin Dvorák and Georges Bizet.

Guest conductors include Kim, Verne Windham and Cris Garza. Soloists include pianist Natasha Black, a student at Whitworth University; Drew Keeve, who plays viola and attends CV; and Kim, who will accompany Eastern Washington University music professor John Marshall in Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos.

“It’s great to partner with friends here,” Kim said of the concert.

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