By Alicia Stemper/Vitamin O
Christine Moseley launched Carolina Musical Outreach in 2002 while a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. With a belief that music empowers children and fosters discipline, confidence, and collaboration, the program initially sought to connect with Spanish-speaking families in the community and provide them with the musical lessons in piano, guitar, violin, and voice they might not otherwise have been able to afford. The program served 12 children in its first year.
Now a 501(c)3 non-profit known as Musical Empowerment, 185 local children receive weekly lessons this year. The organization continues to grow; Musical Empowerment now has chapters at NC State, Wake Forest, High Point University, and East Carolina, and plans to spread beyond the state.
The organization has two primary leaders each academic year. One co-president is always a senior. In this way, there is experienced leadership and continuity year-to-year. Providing varied leadership experiences for students is another strength of the group. Freshman Jack Hall, from Charlotte, serves as treasurer. He said, “It is nice knowing there’s always going to be people coming in and improving Musical Empowerment.”
Jack teaches piano to his student and is also qualified to teach cello, which he plays in the UNC symphony orchestra. Jack enjoys “…seeing development over time. Because this is a long term program, it is nice seeing development of skill and increased interest in music… You can also help appeal to their overall curiosity.” Recently, Jack took his student out of the practice room at University United Methodist Church (where most of the lessons are held) and into the sanctuary. He recalls her awe at the size of the space and the grand piano. To her, it felt like she was in a grand concert hall. Perhaps not so coincidentally, “She had the best lesson she’s ever had.”
Jack first learned about Musical Empowerment at Fallfest during UNC’s Week of Welcome. He finds it is so much more than just teaching children the mechanics of playing an instrument. “You are teaching them to express themselves musically.”
Another participant, Maya Schroder, is a freshman from Cary. She teaches voice to Emely Francisco, a five year old whose two older sisters receive guitar lessons through the program. Maya learned about Musical Empowerment through social media shortly after committing to attend Carolina; she reached out to current senior leader Evan Linett in May. He gave her ideas and suggestions for things to do over the summer. Once Maya enrolled and started teaching Emely, Linett suggested Maya apply for leadership team “…something I wasn’t anticipating.” As a result, Maya feels she gets two very different things from her experience. Through her teaching, she learns “patience and how to engage a younger child;” and by serving in leadership she learns event planning, publicity, and non-profit management.
Lessons are available on almost any instrument including guitar, drums, trumpet, piano, flute and ukulele. So many students are involved the spring recital now requires three performance spaces. Musical Empowerment thrives with the help of community support. People donate instruments, lesson books, and grocery store gift cards used to buy refreshments for recitals. There is also a new donation button on the Facebook page. Hint, hint!