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Monday December 5th

UNC founded nonprofit celebrates 20 years of free musical mentoring for children

Community drumming group, Oxente performing at the Songs for Musical Empowerment event on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022.
Buy Photos Community drumming group, Oxente performing at the Songs for Musical Empowerment event on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022.

Musical Empowerment, a nonprofit organization founded at UNC, hosted a benefit concert on Aug. 30 to celebrate its 20th anniversary and its mission of providing free music lessons for kids. 

Student groups from North Carolina, including co-ed a capella group, UNC Tarpeggios, performed at the benefit event at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. 

Musical Empowerment's mission involves college students serving as mentors to provide free music lessons on a variety of instruments including piano, guitar, and violin, for K-12 students, according to their website.

The organization has seven active chapters across New Hampshire, New York and North Carolina that have served over 1,700 children.

The nonprofit has also been working with N.C. musician Ben Folds’s Keys For Kids initiative to provide children with little-to-no-cost keyboard and music lessons.

UNC Tarpeggios Business Manager Sindhura Kondaveeti, who is also a senior music major at UNC, volunteered at Musical Empowerment as a piano mentor for two years.

“I want to, at some point in the future, teach piano or teach voice, so it was a really nice experience for myself and other music students to start getting more experience in teaching," Kondaveeti said.

Kondaveeti added that Musical Empowerment not only enables growth, but also cultivates and emphasizes mentorship, friendship and bonding.

In 2002, Musical Empowerment was founded by Christine Moseley, a then-business major in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. 

“I was invited to a YMCA campus meeting to try to brainstorm around community programs to help with connecting UNC students to the Hispanic local population," she said. "I presented an idea that I had done in high school in Florida."

In high school, Moseley was a volunteer piano mentor at the Boys and Girls Club and taught after-school music lessons, which inspired Music Empowerment. 

Moseley also said that at first, Musical Empowerment only included Spanish-speaking students and volunteers. However, the small organization expanded its service to all students and all children who needed but could not afford music lessons in its second year, she said. 

Meredith Richard, former executive director of Musical Empowerment and a Kenan-Flagler Business School graduate, said she dedicated her first years out of college to the organization.

“I started out with Musical Empowerment as a music mentor when I was a student at UNC, and eventually became a student co-president and then went on to be hired as the first executive director upon my graduation, which was a huge role to step into as a recent graduate,” she said.

She said Musical Empowerment joined the CUBE, a UNC service that provided support and resources, in its beginning years. The organization also received assistance and donations from other parts of the UNC community. 

The main reason she was able to find success in her role was because of her mentors and advisors — including Joan Gillings, one of the namesakes of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Richard added in a speech at the concert. 

“We have nearly 150 student teachers as of right now,” said Tess McGrinder, UNC senior and co-president of UNC's Musical Empowerment.“I really hope we grow both on the UNC end and the mentee students end.”

Moseley said that she appreciates everyone who helped and was devoted along the way, including her learning at UNC.

Musical Empowerment is an entirely community-funded non-profit organization. Donations can be made here.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 


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