The power of music: New program launches in Steamboat |

The power of music: New program launches in Steamboat

Erick Machado sits inside the studio at his home in Steamboat Springs. The long-time musician hopes to share his passion for music with young people in the community through a new Music with Vision program aimed at helping kids make good life decisions.
John F. Russell

Erick Machado understands the power of music.

He was introduced to it early and started playing the marimbas when he was only 4 years old. That love inspired him to learn the piano, drums, guitar, trumpet and several other instruments.

His love of music also helped him find a path clear of trouble as a child growing up in the war-torn country of Nicaragua, where drugs and alcoholism were everywhere he looked, including inside his own family.

“In my high school, the dealer would come to lunch break to sell cocaine and marijuana,” he said. “They would ask you what do you need. It was normal, and the teachers and the police did not do anything.”

Today, he credits music for guiding him away from the influence of drugs and alcohol, but he said he could not escape them entirely. When he was 13, he wanted to start a band with his best friend.

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“He played the drums, and we wanted to start a band,” Machado said. “But he started using drugs.”

One day, Machado said he arrived at his friend’s home and found him dead. The cause was suicide, but Machado believes drugs played a role. It was at that point Machado knew he couldn’t sit back and watch his community torn apart by addiction.

When Machado was 17, his family immigrated to Miami. He continued to pursue his love for music, using his talents to play at churches, and he also reached out to the community as part of a program that used music to guide young people along the right path.

In 2009, Machado moved to Steamboat Springs and brought his desire to help others through music with him.

Most recently, he has been working with Ken Davis, executive director of Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership, to develop Music with Vision or, as Machado prefers to call it, Musica con Vision.

Davis said the program is a collaboration led by group that includes Northwest Colorado Health, Colorado Mountain College, Sk8 Church, the RX Task Force, Partners in Routt County and Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership. He said a number of other organizations are involved to a lesser degree, and he is also reaching out to others in hopes of raising awareness and support for the pilot program.

Music with Vision is intended to introduce at-risk youth to the power of music. Davis hopes the program will lead to better life decisions and less alcohol and drug addiction among Steamboat’s adolescent population.

“Everybody loves music,” Davis said. “Erick is a force of nature, and once he sees something, he is pretty determined to make it happen.”

Machado is currently teaching a Latin music class at Colorado Mountain College, which is a preview of what he will be offering as part of Music With Vision.

The program, which will begin next month, will offer keyboard, vocal and guitar lessons to teenagers who have been referred to the program through a number of local agencies. The free two-hour lessons will be held once per week for three months.

Machado plans to hold an informal performance for his students once per month at Sk8 Church. There will also be options for music planning and resiliency, through which young people write music, create musical scores and compositions and participate in peer mentoring.

Machado will play a lead role and ran a similar program in Miami before coming to Steamboat. He said participants will be expected to show up and take part, but it will be a pretty laid-back program. He said he not only wants to teach music, but also wants to make sure participants feel connected to the community.

The estimated cost of the two-year pilot program is $93,000. It currently has $42,000 of that goal, thanks, in part, to a $40,000 grant from the Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation, but Davis said the program will need to raise another $16,000 this year to maintain current funding.

Davis said the program will be limited in size, but anyone interested in taking part can contact Sk8 Church and be put on a list of those who will be considered. Anyone wanting to help support this program can contact Davis at the Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership at 970-439-4201 or by email at

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

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