Music with Vision ready to step into spotlight

Members of Music with Vision gathered at the Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs campus Wednesday afternoon. Dave Schramm, drum instructor, Gil Vazquez peer instructor, and Henry Howard, guitar instructor, joined musicians April Gilliland and Brit Laraway, who will also help with the program, for a jam session.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Henry Howard is hoping that participants will come to the Music With Vision program for the music, but he is hoping they will stay for a culture that promotes wellness.

“The real clarity I’m trying to pursue is this is not simply a music program,” said Howard, development director for Music with Vision. “This is a platform to initiate a culture change around how we address opioid use, how we achieve wellness and avoid addiction.”

The Music with Vision program is a project formed by the Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership with help from Rocky Mountain CASA, the Craig-Scheckman Community Foundation, Sk8 Church and other local nonprofit organizations. The program uses various music programs to provide resilience training to give young people, in this case those between the age of 13 and 25, the tools and support they need to cope with problems so that they can live full, healthy lives.

“In order to do the steps of addiction work and mental wellness work, there has to be a high level of trust and connectedness with one another,” Howard said. “We are saying ‘hey, just don’t sign up for a program.’ We are here to develop a relationship and a culture within Steamboat that says, ‘Hey, this is how we, as a community, are going to address these really significant needs of suicide and drug addiction.’

“The cool thing is that everybody loves music, so the invitation isn’t to say, ‘Hey, come to this program, or come to this thing that we have developed.’ The invitation is to say, ‘Hey, do you want to come play some music,'” Howard continued. “That’s our opportunity to build a relationship that then develops connectedness and then gives us the opportunity to develop those relational skills, those connectional skills and those resiliency skills that we know are actually the solutions to these problems.”

Howard said the first session of piano started last week, but the program will also offer guitar, drum and song-writing classes. The lessons are taught in 10-week sessions by music professionals who have also taken part in reliance training through Northwest Colorado Health.

“It’s not just lessons,” Howard said. “The lessons are coupled with this resiliency training. We have a 10-week curriculum that’s been developed alongside Northwest Colorado Health. They have helped us develop the program.”

The musician leaders have gone through resiliency training, and Howard said they work to build a safe environment where young people can feel connected and be vulnerable.

“Normally, it takes three weeks playing music together to get to that level,” Howard said. “It’s through those lessons that we can begin to develope these resiliency skills.”

In addition to classes, the Music with Vision program will also offer the Jam Sesh Music Community — a place where young people can gather to share their love of music. The group will also host community events where members can perform and find a connection with the community where they live.

“We will host community-led events, driven by the people in those age demographics,” Howard said. “We have the stage at Sk8 Church, and we have partnered with Sk8 Church, and a handful of people who want to do these events.

“The idea is not to simply say don’t do drugs, which we know doesn’t work, but to develop a culture of connectedness and resiliency where people are looking out for one another and looking out for their friends so that we an address things like depression and anxiety,” Howard continued.

The first Jam Sesh will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday in the community room at Hill Hall on the Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs campus.

Howard is encouraging anyone interested in the programs to visit

The website provides information about the programs and applications for those interested in signing up for a program. The lesson portion of Music with Vision has space for about 40 people.

The program receives referrals from a number of different community organizations that have contact with this age demographic, but Howard said individuals can also apply for the program.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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