Local musicians band together to link tutors and families

By Brad Swanson:

When two local musicians met online to empathize about the pandemic’s effects on the music scene, they didn’t stop there. They found they both had a desire to help others, and created a non-profit online platform where families in our region looking for tutors can connect with artists, actors, musicians, and others with an expertise to share.

Now, the DC Tutor Collective (click here to view)  is operational, with over 1,000 site views. The site features a simple sign-up for tutors to post their details — including subject areas, experience and hourly fees —  and links for prospective students to contact tutors directly.

The site’s operators are Kimberly Shires, a songwriter and classically trained clarinetist, and Caryn Sever, a guitarist and singer.

Kimberly came up with the idea and put it up for discussion on a Facebook page for musicians in the Virginia, DC and Maryland region. Caryn saw it and responded. And then the project took on a life of its own.

“We were observing a gap created by COVID-19,” said Caryn. “Working parents now had a bandwidth issue. They were suddenly working from home, homeschooling their kids, taking care of their families, pets and households.”

She added, “On the other hand, artists, actors, musicians and service workers were suddenly out of a job as their income streams largely came from events that were suddenly cancelled and establishments who had to move to a take-out only model.”

Precluded by the pandemic from meeting in person, Caryn and Kimberly connected on social media. Caryn built the platform quickly with updates and input from Kimberly and then it launched — all in about one week.

The site’s function is simple. Families read the tutor profiles, send an email through the form listed below the profile, and receive a direct response from the tutor. From there the tutor and family work out the logistics: delivery methods, for example Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom; payment delivery options, such as PayPal, Cash App or Venmo; and  the date and time.

“The site is the connection — the rest is up to the connected,” said Caryn.

Caryn and Kimberly both have day jobs but are active on the local music scene. Kimberly, a contract specialist for a multinational bank, comes from a family of musicians, studied music in college, and not only plays clarinet, piano and guitar but also writes songs and writes about music for various publications.

Caryn is an instructional designer at a community college and, before the pandemic, frequently played at local institutions such as the Red and the Black (the Red Palace), the Velvet Lounge, The Grog and Tankard, the Tree House Lounge, and Jammin’ Java.

Caryn is also a member of Mason District Democratic Committee, serving as Poe precinct captain, and a former webmaster for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (where she helped design The Blue View, among other websites).

Photo: Kimberly Shires (L) and Caryn Sever, both local musicians, have created a non-profit website to link tutors and families 


Brad Swanson is the editor of The Blue View. He can be reached at: newsletter@fairfaxdemocrats.org


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