LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Inside the choir room at Mabelvale Middle School, piano keys blend with adolescent voices.
"This particular group is one of our advanced groups," Matthew Farr says.
Farr works as the choir and orchestra director at the school.
He believes hi students have the potential to hit all the right notes despite living in a community that's known for a soundtrack of police sirens and gunfire.
"Usually, when you hear of Southwest Little Rock it comes with a negative perception," Farr says.
"A lot of crime in the area."
According to Little Rock police, the southwest region saw homicides go from 14 to 21 between 2016 and 2017, and violent crimes increased by 17 percent.
"Things that go on that we don't want the kids to see or hear," Farr says.
"But, they're living it every day."
Farr believes a trip overseas to compete in Europe could do more than give kids a chance at a trophy.
"We try to keep their focus on education and bettering themselves so that they can eventually change this area and this community," Farr says.
The students see the potential, too.
"We're not just a choir," 8th-grader, Johana says.
"We're a family."
"I think we should be able to experience the world more and go around to different type of countries," 8th-grader, Anthony says.
The cost for the July trip is about $2,350 for each of the 15 students going. They have already paid half.
The trip includes competition in Slovakia and touring parts of nearby Vienna, Austria.
Farr launched a GoFundMe himself hoping others might pitch in.
"Those are the kids you want to invest in," Farr says.
"If we don't invest in our youth today, we don't know what tomorrow holds."
The trip could give the students an experience that just might create a better chorus for this community.
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