While UNC-Chapel Hill senior Lindsay Player ’18 balances a major in biology and a double minor in chemistry and neuroscience, she uses music as a way to enhance her performance in the lab.
“With music, there is more abstract and creative thought. Being able to troubleshoot has helped me in the lab and in my major with being creative and being able to find solutions,” Player said.
Player is senior co-president of Musical Empowerment, a nonprofit organization on campus that reaches 130 children in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district, as of this semester. It was originally founded as Carolina Music Outreach in 2002. The mission of Musical Empowerment is to serve children in under-served communities through free, one-on-one music lessons and other mentorship programs.
“I knew that this was the organization that I wanted to be involved with,” Player said. Through Musical Empowerment, she has been able to nourish her love for music while building meaningful relationships with members of the local Chapel Hill community.
Player has been giving piano lessons to Matthew, a 10-year-old student, for four years, since she first started volunteering with the organization.
“Whenever I first met him, he was really shy,” she said. “He was young; I think like 5 at the time. He didn’t even speak to me at that first lesson. He loved music even before he came in, so he’s been fun to teach.”
Watching Matthew’s growth over the course of her academic career has been rewarding.
“From my experiences teaching, I’ve learned how to adapt so much and be so patient,” Player said.
Through potluck dinners and other outreach activities, teachers in Musical Empowerment also have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the families of the surrounding community.
“Chapel Hill and Carrboro are super diverse, and I think that brings a lot for us to learn from these communities,” she said. “This year especially, we are trying to embrace the diversity that we have in our organization even more.”
“We really get to see how music brings everybody together,” she added.
Musical Empowerment also offers other mentorship programs. The nonprofit provides activities for the children outside of campus, such as a trip to see a show at Carolina Performing Arts. Player said Musical Empowerment is mutually beneficial to both teachers and students.
“Being able to adapt and communicate and think really quickly on your feet is something that anyone can benefit from working with this program,” she said.
As she reflects back on her time at Carolina, Player said she has enjoyed watching Musical Empowerment grow and thrive. After graduation, she hopes to serves on the board of directors for a nonprofit organization.
A recital at the end of the semester gives the young musicians an opportunity to perform, and it allows both teachers and students to enjoy all of their accomplishments of the semester.
Musical Empowerment’s spring recital, at 3 p.m. April 7 at University United Methodist Church, is open to the public.
Learn more at https://www.musical-empowerment.org.
Story by Lauryn Rivers ’21