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Harmony Project KC aims to strike a chord with metro kids

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new music program launched Tuesday that organizers hope will hit all the right notes with metro kids. It originated in the gang districts of Los Angeles, and is said to have changed the path of many young lives.

Now, local kids get to try it out

What sounds like "playtime" at Kansas City's Northeast Community Center is so much more. Kids are learning about rhythm using colorful pitched percussion instruments called "boom-whackers."

Parent Brandy Velasquez looked in on her daughter Marissa-Bella, confident she was learning more than just the beat.

“She's one of the kids, so I'm hoping this kind of set her apart and build her own characters an individual,” Velasquez said. “In our community there's not a whole lot for students, like we don't have YMCA and things like that, so this is kind of a good outlet for them aside from school.”

It's part of "Harmony Project KC" the intensive  after school and weekend music program is a spin-off of larger program aimed at shaping young lives through music.

"These programs are starting all over the country because they found that students are more school ready when they get to kindergarten and they are able to read, focus and excel beyond what they might have done otherwise," community center executive director Laura Shultz said.

In one room, it was "boom-whackers" and in another it was "T and Coco." The Goal is eventually to move the kids on to their instruments of choice, and also to a choice position in life.

"We hope that this will give them another leg up, and kind of close that ever-widening achievement gap between children in poverty and those that are more well taken care of," Shultz said.