JEREMIAH LEVY/SAGAMORE STAFF
Music seems to connect people in ways they do not always completely understand. This power to bind people together takes form in our work, homes, and even here at the high school where it connects middle schoolers to their high school student tutors.
The student run Brookline Music Program gives high school students the opportunity to mentor middle schoolers in an instrument and bond with them over a shared musical interest.
According to senior and Brookline Music Program leader Ashley Eng, high school students can be more accessible than adults.
“I think it’s important for middle schoolers to see that there are high schoolers who are closer to them in age and are also interested in music,” Eng said. “I feel like lots of times when it’s a high schooler, they bring a different perspective and tend to be a lot more relatable and understanding to the middle schooler.”
Eng also says the program has a personal connection to her, as it gives her the opportunity to spread her passion for music to others.
“Obviously music is pretty expensive and not everyone has the opportunity to pursue it, so to help run and found this program where I get to share this love for music and create a new community in Brookline among musicians is definitely something that I value,” Eng said.
Senior and viola tutor Lavinia Goessling says the program has taught her how to approach her own playing differently.
“Watching students learn, it’s made me reflect on my own playing, and especially with elementary skills I need to think back to when I was learning it,” Goessling said. “So I need to break down my own skills and abilities to be able to teach it.”
According to Goessling, she learned while tutoring one middle schooler that each student comprehends music in their own individual way.
“One of my students has dyslexia so it’s really difficult for her to read sheet music, so I’ve definitely learned a lot from her about the way she learns music because reading sheet music is really hard for her so she has to take a different approach,” Goessling said.
Co-leader and junior Catalina Sieh says that the program tries to give students in middle school a setting to practice and strengthen both their passion and proficiency in an instrument.
“In middle school, I know it’s sometimes hard for students to have the opportunity or encouragement to practice an instrument and learn and improve, so we want to create opportunities that we’ve been able to have because we have had support from our parents and teachers and we know that some students aren’t able to get that,” Sieh said. “We’re trying to level the playing field a bit.”
According to Sieh, students entering the program from middle school tend to come in at different skill levels. She says that the process of tutoring is beneficial to the tutor, as it helps to strengthen their understanding of what they intend to teach.
“I think as a teacher you may think you know a subject, but when you teach it you need to be able to put it into words clearly and efficiently,” Sieh said. “The tutors also are able to form a bond with the middle school student, and are able to communicate effectively and teach lessons.”
Goessling believes the program is a great idea for anyone with an interest in music, as it allows students to connect with others over a shared love of an instrument.
“I would definitely recommend it to other people because you get a new perspective on your instrument and your own playing,” Goessling said. “I just get to go back to pieces I played when I was younger and I think that’s really fun to get a new opportunity with the piece and build that relationship with a student.”