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Baltimore Musician Brings Music Education to Underserved Students

Kenny Liner, who toured for more than a decade with Baltimore band The Bridge, started a non-profit to teach low-income Baltimore City students about music.

A year ago, you could catch Kenny Liner on stage playing mandolin, percussion or beat boxing with The Bridge. But these days, you’re more likely to find him teaching rhythms with a snare drum or the basics of step dancing in a Baltimore City housing project.

After touring with the eclectic Baltimore band for 10 years, the Pikesville native started Believe in Music, a non-profit affiliate of Living Classrooms that aims to uplift underprivileged Baltimore City students academically, culturally and spiritually through music education.

“It’s just getting going, and it’s going really well,” Liner, who lives in Hampden, said. “Giving kids an opportunity to learn stuff they wouldn’t normally get to learn is an amazing experience.”

Saturday night, Liner is hosting a benefit for his new venture at the Maryland Science Center. Although The Bridge technically broke up last November, the band will reunite to headline Saturday’s event.

“I was really touched by the fact that they all wanted to do it to help me out with my endeavor,” Liner said. “There’s something about all six of us being in the same room.”

Although the band reunited for a 45-minute set at this summer’s All Good Festival, and played a short surprise set at the 8x10 earlier this month, Saturday’s event will be a full, two-set show from The Bridge.

The event also features singer-songwriter Caleb Stine, DJ WHO, circus artists Cirque Oya, a rooftop DJ lounge, cash bars with flying dog beer and a silent auction. Proceeds from the event benefit Believe in Music.

Liner has been teaching four classes, about 200 students total, since this summer at the P.O.W.E.R. House building in the Perkins Homes Community, which is Baltimore’s largest housing project. The classes, divided into first and second grade, third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grade, and seventh and eighth grade, have been singing, dancing and learning about musicians they’d never heard of like Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis.

“It’s amazing to watch their faces light up,” Liner said.

Last week, he had students in classes perform in American Idol-style auditions while he played Simon Cowell. They all made the cut.

“Afterwards they asked, ‘Do we really get to go to Hollywood, Mr. Kenny?” he said.

He has hopes of expanding the program in the future to have its own space and a studio for recording and music lessons.

Believe in Music’s benefit is Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Maryland Science Center. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $30 for ages 21+ and $40 for ages 18-20. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

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