Music is key for learning STEM skills, but it is also the key to happiness, as I witnessed the other day.
I had the opportunity to accompany Music Mentor Ginny Young to Carter and MacRae Elementary School for a photoshoot with some students. Music teacher Matt Pavelko arranged for 5th grader Devon to stay late after school and pick up a new clarinet, a donation from Music For Everyone.
Last spring, Willow Valley Communities and the School District of Lancaster started a pilot program where retirees mentor music students at Carter and MacRae. Mrs. Young was Devon’s music mentor, giving him private clarinet lessons each Tuesday afternoon. They hadn’t seen each other over the summer. But, as he walked in the room, I saw them both smile as their eyes found each other, acknowledging the bond they’d formed over a wind instrument. Mr. Pavelko handed Devon the unopened carrying case containing the new clarinet, and asked him to sit down and open it. Pavelko and Young also sat down, flanking Devon on either side. He quietly, ceremoniously opened the case, took out the instrument pieces and removed the protective plastic. As he joined the pieces together and held the shiny new instrument in his grip, he put the clarinet to his lips and played a few notes.
A big smile overtook his face as his eyes glanced back and forth between Young and Pavelko … silently sharing the joy he was feeling.
I’ll never forget that day. It’s the exhilaration and experience that move so many of us to get involved with young people and give them the chances they would not otherwise have.
By Ross Fairweather, Willow Valley Communities Resident