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Memories of a Raffle Fundraiser

I entered the gym full of kids and jumped right into the warm up dance. They were smiling and jumping and dancing the Macarena. We played rhythm games to teach a steady beat and music theory games to teach note reading. They were then separated by age and music level.
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Being a musician and future educator myself, Kidznotes, a nonprofit organization offering children a free classical music education, seemed to me to be the perfect way to spend my summer.
I was assigned to work with the youngest group, the Mozarts. They were easily distracted. The teacher and I took their tiny violins as they handed them up to us to be tuned. Some students listened well, did everything just as the teacher instructed. They got stickers. Some had too much energy and looked longingly out the window, wanting to play outside on the playground. One girl just wanted to be a ballerina.

Their violins were too tiny to have chin rests, instead a soft sponge was held in place with rubber bands, and their tiny fingers could just barely fold over to reach the strings. I placed their hands in the correct positions and helped them follow the music. I spent time in the hallway with various students struggling to keep up. I led them to their classes, to lunch, and to the playground. They followed me and skipped along beside me and held my hand. They told me all about themselves and stories about their home life. One girl would tell me she was tired and would lay her head on my shoulder. She told me about sleeping in different places. Another shared about a long wait at the community health center for ear infection treatment. As I listened, they became eager to be around me, one day inviting me to collect leaves with them on the playground.

Reflecting on where I’ve invested my time during high school – signing kids up for reading programs, serving free summer lunches to underprivileged children, mentoring first generation students… I’ve become excited to enter the field of education.

By summer’s end, the children showed the potential they had, despite their imperfect backgrounds, by playing together in an impressive concert. Waiting patiently in the hall for their group to be announced, they carefully tucked their violins under their arms and walked out onto the stage. They nervously shuffled their feet, but despite their excitement demonstrated record silence and played proudly.

My involvement with Kidznotes helped me realize how fortunate I’ve been to grow up with home and school environments providing opportunities to develop my potential. Every child deserves to experience the possibilities of who they can be. Though music may not be a passion for every child, as it is for me, music education provides role models and an expanded vision. The impact a program like Kidznotes can have is clear.

From a Kidznotes student: “I’m not sure if I want to play the violin or the viola when I go to college…”