Kevin Schaffter '15MM, a clarinetist, is the founder and director of MusAid, a nonprofit organization that supports music programs around the world by providing teacher training programs and donated instruments. Since its founding, MusAid has supported programs in Haiti, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Belize, and Burma.
MusAid recently held a workshop in New Haven for eight exceptional musicians (each representing a different country) from the Youth Orchestra of Central America (OJCA). Throughout the week, the musicians will be taking classes from nine Yale faculty and eleven graduate students in preparation for a joint MusAid-OJCA benefit concert in Washington, DC on Monday, March 9. The countries represented are Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.
On Wednesday, March 4, the musicians played a concert for the Greater New Haven Youth Symphony and finished by playing a side-by-side reading with the orchestra. Schaffter noted, "This is the first time MusAid has brought musicians from the projects we work with from Central America to the USA, and it has been a wonderful cultural exchange!"
MusAid works in Central America to support partner music programs through the MusAid Teaching Fellowship. Initiated in 2013, The Fellowship recruits musicians aged 20–35 to teach at El Sistema-inspired partner schools overseas during 12-day workshops. Annually, MusAid selects 15 Fellows by competitive audition to teach at the workshops. MusAid has held three workshops in Belize and El Salvador since 2013.