Musical Instrument Lessons for Children

What does Heart of the City Music offer?

We offer:
• Private lessons
• Musical instruments
• Music supplies
• Worship Band classes
• Summer day camp

Because we operate entirely with donations and grants, we are able to offer all of these services for free to under resourced students and adults in inner city Fort Wayne. We also have annual recitals, and have plans to begin chamber music coaching and songwriting workshops as well.

Why do we do what we do?

By learning music, students gain many valuable skills including, how to set goals and follow through, teamwork, self-confidence, commitment, and the value of hard work.  If students can learn to set short-term and long-term goals in an area that is enjoyable – such as music – then they can learn to set and attain goals in other areas of life as well, such as completing high school, going to college, and holding down a job.  With many public schools limiting their arts programs, many inner city students may never have the opportunity to be exposed to musical education and all of its benefits.  Ruby Payne writes in her book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, that one of the four ways that young people can break the cycle of generational poverty is with “a specific talent or ability that provides and opportunity for them.” (p. 79) Music can serve as a voice and an opportunity for disadvantaged youth and adults.

How Can You Help?

We currently operate entirely with donated instruments and supplies and volunteer teachers, so your donations are needed in order to keep lessons and classes free for students. Since June 2010, we have had several instruments donated including guitars, saxophones, clarinets, trumpets, and keyboards. Many of our students would not have access to instruments without these donations. However, we are still in need of more instruments – especially guitars, flutes and portable keyboards, as well as sax and clarinet reeds, guitar strings, folding music stands, tuners, metronomes and lesson books.  Of course, cash donations are always welcome. All donations are tax deductible.

Teachers and Volunteers:

Currently all lessons and classes are taught by Pauline Benner. We are seeking additional teachers and volunteers who would like to help at Heart of the City Music.

Pauline Benner holds a Bachelor of Music in performance from Wheaton College, and has studied toward a Master of Music in performance from Ball State University.  She has taught private lessons in piano, guitar, flute, oboe, clarinet, and saxophone since 1997, and also has experience as a worship leader and a choir director.  Pauline has performed professionally with various ensembles in the Fort Wayne and Chicago areas including the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, the Wagon Wheel Theater, the Jaenicke Consort Woodwind Quintet, the Manchester Philharmonic, the Marion Philharmonic, the Lima Symphony, the Mark Van Cleave Jazz Orchestra, and the Classical Symphony of Chicago.

In addition, Pauline is a singer/songwriter.  Recently, she was honored with an invitation to attend the 2009 ASCAP Christian Songwriters Workshop in Nashville, TN.  In 2011, she completed her first independent album, Words of the Mute, which can be heard at

Pauline founded Heart of the City Music in 2010 with the hope of helping all students, regardless of circumstance or financial ability, to realize their full musical potential, and their priceless worth in the eyes of God.  As a stutterer and a person with Tourette Syndrome, she understands many of the struggles that students face with low self-confidence, and she knows from first hand experience how music can serve as a voice for students who may have no other voice.

If you would like to get involved with Heart of the City Music as a student or as a teacher, or make a donation, please contact us at

“Not all children will find music as central to their lives as I do, but a good education demands exposure to the wide panoply of human achievement. The arts, the sciences, and the humanities must all be represented — and represented well and in a positive light — by teachers who love and live them. And it wouldn’t be bad to insist on learning a few technical skills as well. In my case, it was music and mathematics that struck a chord and took root. I would not have been able to accomplish what I have if my schools had not had active music programs and if my parents had not strongly supported (and enforced) my studies. Every child should have at least the same opportunity. Making music belongs in our homes and in our schools.”  ~Steve Jobs