MAKING MUSIC ACCESSIBLE
ECU Musical Empowerment chapter members teach children weekly lessons
East Carolina University students are making music accessible to elementary, middle and high school students in Greenville through a new program called Musical Empowerment.
The ECU chapter is one of six in the country and one of the only ones with a dedicated teaching space.
Two years ago, Molly Lowder, a senior Honors College music scholar majoring in music performance and international studies, heard about the nonprofit organization based in Carrboro. College students teach free, weekly private music lessons to children in grades K-12.
The goal is to reach students who otherwise would not be able to take private music lessons. All necessary materials are provided at no cost including instruments, accessories, music, stands and other learning tools.
“We recognize that not everyone has access to private lessons, so we attempt to bridge that gap of privilege by offering them for free,” said Kelly Hruska, a sophomore music education major and co-president and co-founder of the chapter at ECU with Lowder.
Since becoming a chapter last spring, the program has continued to grow with regular participants ranging from kindergarteners to juniors in high school. There are currently eight students in the program.
“It’s just exciting to be in a place where the two years seem to have flown by and now, we are at a point where we have so many opportunities to grow,” Lowder said.
Lessons are provided weekly at rented studio space in Greenville.
The program is also an opportunity for college students to have one-on-one relationships with K-12 students in the area.
“I believe in the importance of empowering mentorship,” Lowder said. “While we do focus on learning music and encourage excellence in our students, our mission is not to create an output of prodigy children. In the end, our program has been successful if our students leave it knowing that they are important, they are loved, they are smart, and that they are capable of being whoever they want to be.”
The student teachers also learn in the program.
“In a way it’s been empowering not just to my students, but also for me. I’ve realized that I am a very capable person and I can teach music to kids and that’s really cool for me,” Hruska said.
Students in the program are also offered free instruments during their lessons through the Instrument Lending Program associated with Musical Empowerment. After being in the program for three years, students are eligible to take home their instruments at no cost for the remainder of their time in the program.
“We really try to equip our families with what they need to help them get the most out of this mentorship program,” Lowder said.
Anyone interested in becoming a student teacher should fill out an application: https://festi-me.herokuapp.com/teacher/131. If you would like to enroll a child in the program, complete this application: https://festi-me.herokuapp.com/parentguardian/134.