“Working with the kids at the Music Clubhouse is by far the best volunteering experience I’ve ever had. It has opened my eyes to how powerful writing and playing music can be to a young person. I’ve seen firsthand the self-confidence and self-esteem that music instills in people.
While I’ve been writing original songs for over five years, this is my first experience teaching music. I was nervous when I started because I’m a self-taught musician and I can’t read music. But I’ve learned that you don’t need to be a musical prodigy to make a great connection with someone. Given the structure of the Music Clubhouse program and the ability to work with the same kids over time, I’ve made lasting connections – which I think is rare in a volunteer program.
I work one-on-one with the kids, either learning songs together or helping them develop their own original work. For example, I’ve worked closely with a young man named Mario. He had experimented with writing songs, and I wanted to help him develop them. In just a couple of months he had several full songs written (including the accompanying instrumentation) and had recorded them in the studio! Working with him every week was a truly great experience.
Another student had been playing guitar for only two weeks. We worked together on a beginner melody. He was struggling with the timing in one section. Rather than have him continue to do the section over and over and risk him getting bored (or worse – frustrated with the music), I decided to just keep going with the melody. It was better for him to make progress than to be technically perfect.
Volunteering in the Music Clubhouse has made me a better teacher, as I discovered how to tailor each learning experience to the individual student rather than repeating the same teaching method for everyone. It has given me confidence in my ability to contribute something valuable to others. I’ve learned how easy and rewarding it is to give a little time to something that can change a life.
My goal is to teach the students to see music as an extension of themselves and to use it as a form of expression; a way to work through difficult emotions; or to just be creative and experimental. If they do that, then I’ve accomplished my goal.”