“The Spark That Ignites”: Cameron Deal Brings Music to Under-Resourced Children in Peoria, Arizona

by | Dec 20, 2019 | Changemaker Of The Week

When someone has as much passion as Cameron Deal, you can’t help but get swept away by their emotions.
Deal’s passion, which he discovered as a child of 9 years when he got his first violin, is music. He describes his enchantment with the art form:

“Music is the gateway to glimpsing countless worlds and times … I have had a taste of Soviet Russia’s terror at Stalin’s purges through Shostakovich’s ‘Symphony No. 5,’, experienced the excitement of rebellion against the US’s Red Scare in Bernstein’s ‘Overture to Candide,’ and felt the tragedy of World War II with Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings.’”

For Deal, though, music is much more than a way to experience moments from the past. For him, music is not just a gateway, but a pathway–a pathway paved by creativity, dedication, responsibility, and connection. His love for music and its wholly unique attributes is so strong, he felt called to share his passion with those less fortunate: under-resourced children in his home community of Peoria, Arizona.

Hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Peoria, Deal’s initiative–The Music Makers Project, funded by TPP in November–aims to increase children’s access to music by bringing in local high school musicians to present and perform on their instruments.

“This offers an opportunity for the children to interact with and explore a variety of instruments. This seed grant enabled the purchase of a variety of beginner instruments, including a violin, two ukuleles, and various percussion instruments, so that the kids can begin long-term relationships with music. The Music Makers Project wants to be the spark that ignites long and rich musical lives for those who have not had the opportunity to explore this area of the arts.”

Deal, who was so affected by music at a young age himself, is keenly aware of the power of music’s potential to change children’s lives:
“Music is a tool that can be applied to so many diverse contexts: to resolve conflict, to affect emotions, and to inspire change. Playing an instrument has been linked to higher executive functioning and academic achievement. These children deserve the opportunity to explore instrumental music and its benefits regardless of their income.”

The project has already made a difference in the lives of the children who participate, many of whom have decided to pursue music outside of the Project. “This is what success looks like: greater musical involvement both inside and outside of the club,” Deal says.

In the future, Deal hopes to take the project to the next level by purchasing beginner instruments that will stay at the club long-term, enriching the children’s musical experiences, as well as offer free private music lessons. He is currently seeking support through additional grants, fundraising, and donations.

Though more than 200+ members of the Boys and Girls Club have direct access to the Music Makers Project, Deal notes that it is impossible to fully quantify the impact of his incredible project. “Dollars earned, time spent, instruments explored, and any of the other numerical measures can’t fully capture the impact…Seeing the kids’ grins after they squeak out a melody they know by heart is one measure of success, and those grins abound throughout every session.”

TPP recognizes that not all projects have neat “numerical measures” to fall back on in describing their impact, and we are proud to support initiatives that have clear impact beyond numbers, like Deal’s—in fact, investing in start-up projects by local changemakers is one of the ways we believe real change happens. For more on our Vision and Values, please see our About Us page.

To support Deal and the Music Makers Project, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-music-makers-project

Written by Carolyn Ashworth