January is National #MentoringMonth – a time to focus national attention on the importance of mentors, and to reflect on how each of us can help grow the mentoring movement and the positive effects it has on young people.
Here at Songcatchers, mentors are experienced and successful musician educators and performers who are passionate about music and their instrument. They want to pass on the skills and knowledge that can help our young volunteer instructors be successful at teaching while improving their own music and leadership skills. #MentoringAmplifies potential.
Our wonderfully talented mentors are:
Amy Hersh – Flute Jim Wolahan – Guitar Jim Weingast – Drums
Marina Jeraci – Strings Ulysses Torres – Brass Janice Nimetz – Piano
Enid Blount Press – Clarinet
Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Many of our young teachers have gone on to become successful educators, musicians and mentors themselves.
Here’s a spotlight on Ulysses Torres, our brass mentor – music changed his life!
As a 7-year-old Ulysses sang in the children’s choir, and took piano and trumpet lessons in the Songcatchers After-School Music Program along with his two siblings, Jason and Vanessa. Songcatchers provided a much-needed artistic outlet for them – a welcoming community of like-minded learners for students, and an engaging parent group that wanted the best opportunities for their children. They were living the American dream.
Then tragedy hit his family. A fire consumed their apartment and the few possessions they owned – luckily, they were unharmed. His parents, hard-working immigrants from Mexico, worked tirelessly to get them back on their feet. Songcatchers gave Ulysses and his siblings scholarships to continue studying their instruments and wrapped them in the warm and encouraging family that Songcatchers is. The organization provided stability and continuity during a very difficult time for the family, and this experience is one of many reasons the entire family still supports the mission of Songcatchers over 20 years later.
Today Ulysses is a professional tuba performer and band director in the Port Chester Public Schools. He is a mentor at Songcatchers and a member of the Board of Directors. His youngest sister Lesley, who was just an infant at the time of the fire, was a volunteer flute instructor through her first year of college and joins Vanessa and Ulysses as staff members at choir camp each summer.
Ulysses is thankful for the opportunity that he received as a young boy and proud to be able to give back to the organization that helped shape him into the man that he is today. #BecomeAMentor