By Noe Gutierrez
It has been proven that music participation, both inside and outside of school, is associated with measures of academic achievement among children and adolescents. For teenagers struggling with issues surrounding adolescence, sexuality, sexual orientation, loneliness or depression, identifying these emotions in music can be extremely helpful. Involvement with music, whether as a listener, creator or performer, can be extremely cathartic. Rowland Gomez grew up in North Indio and was able to avoid the pitfalls of adolescent trouble through music. “Part of the reason I never had any problems is because I was working on music inside. I understand the value of what that is.” With committed individuals like Brittney D. Ortiz, Hector H. Salas (actor), Matthew Lopez, Jonte Turner, Pedro Salcido (Owner of Flat Black Art Supplies) and Daniel P. Sullivan (Provoked), Gomez will elevate his mission to provide positive support to young people through the M.A.E.X. Academy. I spoke with Gomez about his dedication to music and serving his community.
CVW: How did your passion to help our youth begin and how did you start M.A.E.X.?
Gomez: “I’ve been working on it for some time. It’s been four years I’ve been developing the organization. I originally started working in the community and with youth in 2008. I was hired by Scott Trujillo of the City of Indio to work at the Indio Teen Center to run some recording studio programs. After I graduated from Indio High School in 2006, I went to school for sound engineering for about a year and a half. I went back to school, got an Associate’s degree in sound and engineering, and have a Bachelor ’s degree in Entertainment Business, studying film and media. I recorded this album, wrote, produced, engineered and performed it at different high schools. I was going to every high school in the desert. The last place I ended up was the Indio Teen Center. I go in there and I’m pitching this album. They tell me I have this ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker on the front of the album so they won’t be able to allow me to perform but do I wanna job? That’s kind of how everything started.
“My grandfather was a musician so I’ve always been inspired. As I went to college, I got more into the arts, film, entertainment and production. Originally, the purpose was to see how I can work with the youth. I was hired by the Boys and Girls Club and Quinton Egson. I worked with them for a few years to develop more programs. It gradually progressed to what is now the M.A.E.X. Academy.”
CVW: Where will M.A.E.X. be based out of?
Gomez: “We are currently working within the President Gerald R. Ford Clubhouse of the Boys and Girls Club in La Quinta right now. I’m partnering with the B&GC to develop another part of what they provide as a membership club. We’ll be starting at the LQ unit. Eventually we would like to be in each unit across the desert.”
CVW: What type of curriculum will you be utilizing?
Gomez: “I’ve been developing the curriculum over time. There’s a foundation I’ve been working on that’s a ‘hands-on’ approach. In my experience, the mentor/mentee relationship works. When you go about it that way, you have to have the right people in that position to work with the kids. Through the music and creative expression, you can connect on different levels. There’s a lot we’re working on to gradually offer to start to develop community support through various events that will take place for sponsorship opportunities and for the community to be involved more.
“There’s other things communicated in that environment other than language. You have to have the best interest of the child at heart. Some kids go into it completely inexperienced with no reference and others have quite a bit of reference, in terms of engaging in the activity. Me as a producer, you add a little more creativity and direction during a session. At the same time you have guidelines; things that cannot be said or spoken about like in a classroom setting. You’re trying to create a positive scenario from whatever is counter to what they experience or have experienced at school or at home and the various situations they’ve been exposed to.”
CVW: There’s a method and development to music that parallels the growth of a young person. How does M.A.E.X. propose to help connect the dots for participants?
Gomez: “The music process is a process. You have to really love it enough to share it and you do it in way to secure the musical integrity. In the bylaws, we’ve covered youth interventions and mental health as some of what our goals are. Within the music culture, it’s about creating disciplines, morals and values. I’ve recorded kids bands where we were creative in the studio. I’ve worked with rappers and vocalists and they pick up certain leadership skills that come from just participating in music.”
CVW: How do kids get involved with M.A.E.X.?
Gomez: “As a member of the B&GC you will be offered the program as part of the membership and for new members it will be a part of the application process. M.A.E.X. will be implemented in March 2019 at the La Quinta BG&C. The services will be based on the needs of the youth. There will be multiple mentees to direct the program.
Some of the best times of our lives were working with you. It resonated with me.”
Upcoming M.A.E.X. Events:
February (Date TBA) – La Quinta, CA – Boys and Girls Club – After-school session
Friday, February 22, 2019 – (Location TBA) – All ages live music and arts event
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 from 4-7 p.m. – Palm Desert, CA – Flat Black Art Supply –
For more info send email to:
M.A.E.X. is a nonprofit organization. Please consider a donation.
501c3 EIN 47-4040977