Sharing an interest in both music and the same instrument, freshmen from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and seventh graders from the Greater Miami Youth Symphony are pairing up through a local mentoring program.
The Frost MusicReach mentoring program began this past academic year as a collaboration among UM’s music school, Arts for Learning and the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.
“I think it’s really important for everyone to be involved in their community,” said Kenneth Moses, the assistant dean for undergraduate studies at the Frost School of Music.
“Middle school is a tough age, and there’s so much we can do as mentors for them…the lessons we can teach them are beneficial,” said mentor John Farrey, a music business major who plays the oboe.
The mentoring program was started with a financial gift from The Children’s Trust to Arts for Learning, according to Sheila Womble, the executive director of Arts for Learning. According to Womble, Arts for Learning serves as the facilitator between the UM student mentors and the participants from the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.
Working as mentors has provided Frost School students with some unexpected benefits.
“There’s so much we can do with the program, there are many opportunities not only to learn their instrument better, but also cultural experiences,” Farrey said.
Most Sundays the mentors meet with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, coach them for an hour and then privately teach their mentees for another hour.
“For me to coach the Greater Miami Youth Symphony is a really special experience; it’s rewarding to give back and teach,” said Justin Pressman, a classical trumpet performance and musical education major.
He knows how helpful a mentor can be from first hand experience. Robert Sullivan, the associate principal trumpet in the Cleveland Orchestra, mentored him for five years.
“I think that’s why I was chosen as one of the mentors, I had good qualifications coming in thanks to Robert Sullivan,” Pressman said. “I value it a lot. It’s what I want to do. It’s hands-on experience [and a] great opportunity.”
The other UM student mentors are cellist Pilar Suter and bassoonist Anna Gioseffi.
The youths participating in the program are musicians who would not otherwise have the opportunity for one-to-one coaching. The relationships established through the program are designed to last for four years and to provide the apprentices with guidance in both music and life.
The full scope of the mentoring program is still a work in progress, but both the sponsors and the participants are optimistic about its future.
Said Pressman, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding…my goal is to inspire students to love music and continue loving it for a lifetime.”