The last look from the Arts Education Data Project showed more than 3.6 million students across the U.S. don’t have access to music education.

There are efforts across the country and especially in New York state looking to help change those numbers.

"I've always had this love for music, a little spark," said Gerard Steward Mitchell, currently enrolled in an afterschool music program that prides itself in accessibility to underserved youth.

Which means Gerard is able to learn several instruments. 

"It's like biting into different pieces of food that you might like, you might not,” he said. “It’s like finding the ones that you would enjoy the most."

He goes from practicing trumpet in a beginner's class, the grandson of legendary Buffalo horn player Clarence Lott.

"I wanted to bring back what he had brought into the family, because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be in the situation right now," he said. "I wouldn't be interviewed. I wouldn't be playing drums. I wouldn't be practicing trumpet. I wouldn't be playing guitar at this point. I would just be sitting in the house, watching TV and stuff."

But as it stands, he goes from the beginner’s class to the advanced class upstairs to lay beats down on the drum kit. 

It includes everyone from different walks of life, thanks to the Community Music School, who's celebrating almost a century of equity in music education.

“I feel like it's a privilege and an honor to be up here with eight of these people that allow me to be with them and play with them. Just like having a family," Gerard added. "It’s like a having a family outside of school."

Because Gerard wants more kids to have opportunities like him.

"When I get off school, I'm just so happy to come here and play with anybody,” he said. 

The Community Music School in Buffalo hopes that generous donors and other driven individuals across New York will see stories like this and work to help kids from all walks across the state have access to a potential future in music.