Saginaw, Mich., is one of those places where economic recovery has been slow to arrive. The city has been hit hard over the years by factory shutdowns. Unemployment is high. And people have left, by the thousands.

Now, residents John and Katrina Vowell are trying to help turn things around — with music.

The couple says they love Saginaw, despite its many problems, which include high poverty, drugs and drive-by shootings.

So when the Vowells were trying to turn their own lives around a few years ago, they decided to start a program called Major Chords for Minors. It provides free private music lessons — and instruments — to kids who can’t afford them. That’s a lot of people in Saginaw, where the poverty rate is more than 37 percent.

Major Chords for Minors has almost 130 students so far, and a long wait list.

Still, it’s a shoestring operation. The Vowells started the program using their meager savings and help from friends. Now they rely on grants and donations. Instructors, who teach drum, guitar and piano, get paid only $10 a lesson.

Classes are held in an old public elementary school, which was shut down for years due to lack of enrollment.

Free Music Lessons Strike A Chord For At-Risk Kids

Photos: Brittney Lohmiller for NPR

Anyone who lives in the Saginaw area or knows someone who does, please help find my friend Terry Trafford - Last seen on March 3rd @ the Dow Event Center! 

Height: 5’11

Weight: 190

He drives a 1995 green Sierra 1500 pickup, LIC: CJA 2235

Please contact the Saginaw police with any information possible and get the word out as much as possible to bring this great guy home!

Archeologists dig for relics in Borchard Park in Old Town Saginaw

SAGINAW, MI — Carrying shovels and tripod-mounted sifting screens, Castle Museum of Saginaw County History employees and volunteers assembled in Borchard Park in search of relics from Saginaw’s past.

After starting their archaeological survey earlier in the week, half a dozen crew members dug several holes Friday, Aug. 8, in the park across from the Saginaw County Governmental Center. Jeff Sommer, curator of archaeology at the Castle Museum, said while they haven’t uncovered anything massive, they are continuing to gain perspective on the early days of Saginaw.

Thus far, crews have uncovered a button which could date to the 19th century, as well as a piece of a serving plate. Additionally, crews have unearthed several pieces of material used for tool making by the various American Indian tribes. Read more.