Make music more accessible and share the love of music through education: These are the defining messages Nabi Music Center, a website and service connecting children (or anyone) with instructors throughout Boston, seeks to spread.
Nabi, conceived and founded by Vanessa Charles, is the first of its kind: an intuitively designed portal which helps parents find talented independent music instructors nearby for their children. Though Nabi’s focus is on kids and young adults ages 4-19, it is open to everyone
“Music is for everyone, no matter what age,” Charles says.
Nabi’s focus is twofold: it connects people with music while also creating jobs and income opportunities for passionate musicians seeking to share their aural wisdoms. This notion of student and teacher is where Charles derived Nabi’s name, which means “butterfly” in Korean.
“To me, a butterfly is the best representation of a music student. One who transforms and develops her musicianship based on her love for music and desire to become better,” explains Charles. To make the connection come truly come full-circle, Charles’ first name, Vanessa, is a Greek name which also means butterfly.
When you’re ready to help break your child out of their musical cocoon, getting started with Nabi is simple. You type in some keywords (which is optional), a city or zip code and the type of instrument you’re looking to learn and instantly view profiles of talented and available instructors. The profiles detail the instructors’ music preferences, personal bio and teaching experience. There are instructors available for anything from the expected piano, to modern fancies like Logic Pro.
Charles wants to make finding an instructor and learning about music a highly personal experience, and Nabi does its part beyond just connecting two endpoints over the internet.
On the flip side, the instructors are offered an opportunity to make extra income. Instructors sign up to be a part of Nabi’s network and are vetted thoroughly, but not to the point of inconvenience. They fill out an application, have a 30-minute interview and get a reference and a background check. The ideal instructor is a college student or recent graduate, but it’s not exclusive.
Charles wished something like Nabi existed when she was a kid. Back then she dreamt of being a musician but her father didn’t think it was a promising career path. In response to that, Charles and Nabi set out to change the way parents perceive music education.
“It doesn’t have to be a career. It can be a hobby or an extracurricular activity. A child can use her musical instrument to have fun, to release emotions, to share thoughts, feelings, and ideas,” Charles says.
On the back of her education in Management and Political Science at UMass Boston, Charles feels that Boston was the perfect place to start Nabi.
“This city is full of families, has a stable economy, and it shows great support and appreciation for arts,” noted Charles.
Charles’ and Nabi’s vision is noble and multifaceted: not only does it strive to make music accessible for children it also works to change adults’ perceptions of how children can interact with music. Not to mention helping talented musicians make an extra buck. It doesn’t get much more symbiotic than that. While the aforementioned butterfly metaphor speaks to a personal transformation, it also works on another level: the spreading of knowledge like pollen. With Nabi, Charles ensures that more musical flowers will be sprouting up in Boston all the time.