The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday June 6th

Musical Empowerment fosters inspiration between UNC students and children

With the help of college mentors, Musical Empowerment helps children in underprivileged communities to discover a love for learning and a creative ability for music.

Sophomore Denton Ong, who serves on the marketing committee, said Musical Empowerment has expanded considerably after starting in 2002 with just twelve student pairs.

“In 2012, we became a non-profit organization aimed at expanding our model to other universities and communities, and in that time, we have grown to 140 student pairs,” he said. “Additionally, we have also expanded to N.C. State and Wake Forest, where we are continuing to use our model to the same effect.”

Ong said supporting Musical Empowerment has been a positive and enlightening experience for him.

“Musical Empowerment, by pairing UNC students with local K-12 students, has enabled me to expand my horizons and serve as a positive mentor for Omari Ross, to whom I teach guitar. It has been one of the best aspects of my time at UNC,” he said.

Musical Empowerment Senior Co-President Marissa Cranford said the partnership has successfully kept many students involved in their musical passions.

“We currently have 118 UNC student volunteers, and 97 are non-music majors,” she said. “I have seen how impactful and valuable volunteering with Musical Empowerment has been for these students, as without this sort of opportunity, many of those non-music majors would have ended their involvement in the arts when they came to UNC.”

Cranford, who joined Musical Empowerment immediately after discovering the organization at FallFest as a first-year, said the team has grown considerably ever since.

“We plan to continue developing chapters across North Carolina and the United States in order to work toward our vision of a world where music is a catalyst for all children to unlock their unique potential,” she said.

Musical Empowerment Junior Co-President Lindsay Player said the organization does its best to ensure the UNC student teachers get something beneficial out of their relationship with the students.

“I know that the UNC student teachers gain valuable skills while also keeping up with their instruments, which I think is an important aspect about partnering with the UNC community,” she said. “I believe that the teachers are drawn towards working with the children, so I really think that it is exciting for them to see growth in their students over time.”

Player said she is motivated by the impact she has seen that she could have on young people’s lives.

“My piano student Matthew has always been pretty shy, and in past recitals he has been hesitant to perform in front of the large crowd, but last semester, when it was his turn to perform, he practically ran up to the front of the crowd, played his piece with such confidence, and even took a bow,” she said. “It is this growth that really motivates me to continue and love teaching and working with my student.”


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