Holly Swanson, Brunswick Walmart manager Adam Tremblay, center, and Brunswick High School Music Director Brandon Duras. Contributed / Pat Cannon

Brunswick High School’s music department has gotten a financial boost to make private lessons more accessible to students who wish to hone their talents.

As part of a new block grant program, the Laureen Swanson Music for Youth Foundation has contributed $5,000 to the high school program, which it received through a grant from Walmart.

We applied for the grant because I wanted to begin to give private instrument lessons to students free of charge,” said Brandon Duras, the high school music director. 

While some of his students already take private lessons with musicians in the area, others cannot afford them.

There’s a lot of demands on family budgets and we’re here to offer that support and partnership,” said Patricia Cannon, a board member for LSMYF. She studied at Berklee College of Music and has taught music at public and private schools, as well as community music classes.

“The experience of doing music can really grow a person in their perspective, their skills and their confidence,” she said.


While some Brunswick students are using the private lessons simply to improve and for enjoyment, others use them to prepare for concerts or to get ready for for auditions for competitive festivals and programs.

We have a highly successful number of students who make it into honors festivals, so these lessons really prepare them for that,” Duras said. 

LSMYF was created 44 years ago in honor of Laureen Swanson, a 1974 Brunswick High School graduate who was active in music programs at school and in the community. She became ill with leukemia and died in 1979, and her parents, Ron and Ellie Swanson, created a scholarship fund in her memory with the goal of helping other young Midcoast musicians pursue their dreams.

“Music was oxygen for her, and she was involved in it in school and sang in choir in college,” Cannon said.

Swanson’s sister, Holly Swanson, is a foundation board member. “This is Holly’s way of honoring her sister’s legacy and passing it forward,” Cannon said.

Duras said that music programs are beneficial for everyone.


“All sorts of studies show how music improves your mental health and academic performance,” said Duras. “It teaches everyone to be able to collaborate and work towards a greater goal because everything is so connected.

“Music is a uniquely human thing. I think it’s a great experience for students to enjoy an art form that has the power to change anyone’s mood.”

The foundation’s scholarship funds go to young people up to age 22 and they assist with all manner of music-related endeavors. 

“This is a call out for people if this mission touches their heart to be in touch,” Cannon said.

The foundation hopes to bring in “people who are closer in age to the population we’re serving” to join the board, she said. 

To learn more, visit laureenswansonmusicforyouthfoundation.org.

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