FARGO — A young nonprofit called Excite Music began operating earlier this year, offering free after-school music lessons to elementary school children as well as scholarships for older kids looking to attend either the North Dakota State University Music Academy or Elevate Rock, two Fargo music schools.
The person instrumental in that effort has been Heather Burbine, founder and director of Excite Music, which over this past year provided six children with free musical training.
In the coming year, Burbine hopes to boost that number to perhaps 15 students, something she said will be easier to do if Excite Music can find additional volunteer music teachers.
Two volunteers pitched in this past year, mainly at Willow Park Elementary in West Fargo, providing free after-school music lessons to students who otherwise couldn't afford music lessons.
Besides the volunteer effort, the other major aspects of Excite Music are the scholarships it offers older students who can provide their own transportation but who don't have the financial wherewithal to attend the NDSU Music Academy or Elevate Rock.
In the case of the NDSU Music Academy, Excite Music offers full-tuition scholarships, while scholarships up to 75 percent of tuition are available for Elevate Rock.
"There isn't anything like this out there," said Burbine, who added that in getting started, the nonprofit received help via the fiscal sponsorship of Fargo's Impact Foundation and the foundation's Giving Hearts Day fundraising efforts.
Ashleigh Fjelde, who is in charge of marketing for Excite Music and one of the organization's volunteer board members, shared the story of a girl who received free piano lessons after school.
Fjelde said unbeknownst to the girl's volunteer music teacher, the girl had no piano at home and she used a keyboard that she drew on a piece of paper to practice.
Fjelde said one of the nonprofit's highlights of the year was helping provide the girl with an electronic keyboard she now uses for practice.
Burbine said that in addition to needing more volunteers, the organization is also hoping to draw more donations in the coming year.
"The more money we can raise, the more students we can help," she said, adding, "It's a pretty obvious need."