Community, News, Profiles

Music mentorship inspires kids

Chad Bernstein, an alumnus of the Frost School of Music, is helping provide musical mentorship to at-risk students through the Guitars Over Guns Organization (GOGO).

GOGO is an after-school program that matches local musicians with students at North Miami Middle School and Allapattah Middle School once a week to teach music.

Bernstein came up with the idea for the organization while working with at-risk kids shortly after moving to Miami in 2002.

A friend of Bernstein’s, who was a teacher, convinced him to volunteer in local Miami public schools, teaching and performing for underprivileged kids, including kids with disabilities and those in juvenile detention centers. Bernstein had always had “an intense desire to do good” and, after having volunteered only a short time, he was hooked.

After graduating from UM in 2006, Bernstein was given a full scholarship to complete his master’s degree. He founded the nonprofit foundation GOGO during this time.

The GOGO program was born out of a strong wish to provide kids with the opportunity to learn how to play music, an opportunity that Bernstein saw disappearing from school curriculums and budgets.

“With so many of our middle schoolers having never touched an instrument, we feel a responsibility to pay forward the same opportunities to be exposed to music that we had as young people,” Bernstein said.

The three components of the GOGO program are mentoring, instrument training and ensemble instruction, which Bernstein sees as equally important in the curriculum. Although he believes a structured curriculum is critical to success, he also believes it is important to listen to the kids and deviate from the curriculum when necessary.

Bernstein’s own experience with spontaneous teaching occurred when his students asked to go to the beach.

“I asked why they wanted to go to the beach so bad, and they said that they have never been there,” he said. “They live in Miami, miles away from the beach, and they had never been. It broke my heart.”

Gary Lindsay, a UM Frost School professor, the program director for studio jazz writing and a GOGO donor, has long been a loyal supporter of the organization.

“GOGO is offering these students, through mentorship, positive and nurturing role model,” he said. “For some, their music lesson may be the only positive experience for the week.”

Sherrine Mostin, GOGO’s program director, works with Bernstein to develop the curriculum.

While she loves working with GOGO, she admits that working with these kids, who are often emotionally and socially unstable, is a challenge.

“One of the most challenging aspects I found was working with the kids who are unruly and disruptive,” she said. “But as one might expect, the ones who are very hard to deal with usually turn out to be the kids who need it the most.”

Mentor volunteering is open to all UM students, and teaching takes place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday with the possibility of Saturday opportunities in the near future.

 

For more information about Guitars Over Guns, email Chad Bernstein at chad@guitarsoverguns.org or call 847-420-6327. Internships and volunteer positions are available.

Visit guitarsoverguns.org to find out about upcoming events. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

 

 Featured photo courtesy of Andy Melton on Flickr.

 

October 15, 2014

Reporters

Renee Vesselinovitch


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It’s the play Miami Hurricanes fans will never forget — and Florida State fans are trying to forget. ...

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

UM dining services team earns national recognition for special event catering. ...

From hammerheads to great whites, University of Miami researcher Neil Hammerschlag is a dedicated sp ...

An ACLU report authored by UM sociologists documents racial and ethnic disparities in Miami-Dade Cou ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

Miami senior Tyler Gauthier was named to the 2018 Fall Watch List for the Rimington Trophy presented ...

Miami junior wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was among those named to the watch list for the 2018 Bile ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.