By Ukee Washington

By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A retired South Jersey woman could have started a side business teaching music. Instead, she’s giving lessons away for free.

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This Pennsauken woman’s home is filled with music several afternoons a week. And we paid a visit.

Under the guidance of Rachel Merrill, arms and hands move with grace and precision, creating a symphony of bells. Ayanna Muhammad said, “It looks hard, but once you keep practicing the same measure and different things, it gets really easy.”

Merrill is executive director of Jubilee Music Enrichment, a New Jersey non-profit she started nearly 14 years ago to teach children grades 7 to 12. She saw a need for free lessons.

“A lot of the parents were asking me, ‘Can you teach my child music?’ and when they heard the price they couldn’t afford it, and a lot of them did not have instruments in their homes to practice,” she said.

So Rachel Merrill stepped up. Her home has handbells, keyboards and chimes.

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Six-year-old Muhammad had so much fun watching his older brother and sister, he wanted to learn the chimes.

“I like the way it sounds,” he said.

Over the years, Merrill has taught more than 100 students. Her dream is to purchase a building in Camden, a permanent school to teach music, performing and confidence.

“Whether it’s music or not, they will have to present themselves before people in real life even if it’s for a job interview and they will know how to do that,” Merrill said.

Their dream building costs $70,000. They hope to close a $40,000 gap this spring.

The Jubilee Music Enrichment’s Jubilee Ringers will perform a concert April 27, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. at St. Paul Baptist Church in Cinnaminson, NJ.

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For more information, contact Rachel Merrill at 856-796-0153 or visit

Ukee Washington