Music is in the air at the Elgin, Ill., Corps, where through the Metropolitan Division’s Let the Music Begin (LTMB) program, more than 50 children receive lessons in brass, rhythm, theory and guitar each week. The program has made such an impression that it recently was awarded a $5,000 grant by the Chicago Bulls Foundation, which allowed the corps to purchase several brass instruments.
“It’s Kingdom work,” said Captain Heather Montenegro, corps officer, who along with her husband, Captain Xavier, and their leadership team created a STEPs (Strength Tool to Engage Potential) goal to grow the existing music program and connect families from it to other corps activities.
They began advertising the music program in two schools whose principals sit on the advisory board and instituted a quarterly registration process requiring parents to sign their children up in person in the fall, winter and spring. Each youth night a parent or guardian must enter the building with their child to sign them in and return at the end of the evening to sign them out.
“We didn’t realize the scope of the impact these direct points of contact could have on our corps people and the community,” said the captain. “We’re building relationships with the whole family.”
As the program grew, more volunteers were needed to accommodate the large number of students. To the captains’ delight, soldiers began to step up and out of their comfort zones to assist even if they’re not musically inclined. Fifteen volunteers from the corps and community teach three brass bands, rhythm and theory, prepare supper, run the sign-in table and manage crowd control.
Fall, winter and spring concerts bring everyone together to celebrate the accomplishments of the young musicians. Soldiers attend in uniform to greet families and make them feel welcome, inviting them to corps programs and worship services. Inspired by the developing relationships, volunteers last spring spent the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter delivering ministry bags inviting program participants and their families to church for Easter service. Each bag was filled with English and Spanish Bibles, an Easter devotional, candy, a family game, and a note saying how much they enjoy having the children participate in LTMB.
Through their efforts, the captain reports an increasing number of LTMB students have joined the youth Bible time which takes place after music lessons end. At least one family has started attending the corps semi-regularly, and several students also attended music camp this summer.
“Our students are learning music and the Bible, and we’re connecting with the entire family unit,” concluded Captain Heather. “It’s an incredible ministry.”