The Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA Strong Kids Campaign didn’t raise enough money this year. Because of the bad economy, the demand for the campaign, which helps needy children and families afford programs at the YMCA, was much higher than expected. Directors at the Ahwatukee branch were worried they would be forced to turn down numerous families.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Sherry Finzer didn’t like the sound of that at all.
A full-time professional flutist, philanthropist and part-time aerobics instructor at the Y, Finzer felt she needed to do something to help the Strong Kids Campaign.
So she is doing what all musicians hope to do: use her musical talents to benefit the lives of others.
Finzer is selling her six albums: Sanctuary, Desert Journey, Watercolors, Unleashed, Christmas Picante and Passion and Roses at the Ahwatukee Foothills YMCA for $20 each. Fifty percent of all proceeds made will go towards funding the campaign.
“I’m selling my CDs to raise funds so they (YMCA) don’t have to turn anyone away,” she said.
Each full-length CD features Finzer on the flute and a variety of other musicians, including guitarists, pianists, percussionists and harpists. After playing classical music for years, Finzer wanted to explore different genres and sounds of the flute. Therefore, each album has a distinct, unique sound. Her latest album, Sanctuary, is a relaxing and meditative CD featuring a Native American flute. Desert Journey and Christmas Picante are both upbeat, Latin-themed works, while Watercolors and Unleashed are flute duets and Passion and Roses features flamenco music.
Finzer was born to play the flute. She began her career as a flutist in the forth grade in New York and continued all through high school, participating in community orchestras and winning competitions along the way. Life after high school became hectic and she was forced to put her flute aside as she raised her children, who became musicians as well.
“When my kids started getting to the age to be in band, I really missed playing myself,” she said.
After years of rarely practicing her flute, she picked it up again and hasn’t put it down since.
Finzer plays with a number of groups and ensembles, including dulce VAS, a Southwestern, Latin-style band, Desert Fusion, Radiant Sky, Trillium Flute Trio, Phoenicia and the Central Arizona Flute Ensemble. With these groups, Finzer performs at weddings, parties, special events and concert series. She has also won many prestigious national awards for her playing, like the Arizona Flute Society Competition, the Great Southwest Flute Fair Competition and the Rochester Flute Association’s Competition.
While obviously a seasoned performer, Finzer said she gets her greatest satisfaction from teaching others.
“Teaching helps you learn yourself… I’ve seen students who never practiced before, then suddenly something sparks within them and they love it.”
Training young children to appreciate the power of music is what Finzer is all about. She recently founded the Arizona World Music Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting music awareness in elementary-aged children.
“Kids in Arizona start music too late. I believe children should be introduced to music at a young age,” she said.
Her mission with the AZWMI is to inspire a love for music in young children by exposing them to instruments and having them learn to play by participating in an interactive music program.
The AZWMI is still in its developing stages, but Finzer plans to travel to local elementary schools to perform with children.
“The kids will get to participate with the performers and hopefully that will spark an interest so they continue studying music,” she said.
While she continues to work on the AZWMI, Finzer is keeping busy performing with dulce VAS. Their next performance will be to honor the veterans on Nov. 11 at Tuscany Falls at Pebble Creek in Goodyear. They will also be playing at the Corks & Cactus wine-tasting event at the Desert Botanical Gardens on Nov. 13.
For those interested in purchasing a CD to benefit the Strong Kids Campaign, the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA is located at 1030 E. Liberty Lane.
Leslie D’Ambrosio is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.