Growing the Musicians of Tomorrow

Zaslav+and+a+student+named+Miles.+Zaslav+recalls+that+when+asked+whether+he+would+continue+playing+the+trumpet%2C+the+mentee+replied+that+he+was+thinking+about+quitting%2C+but+Music+Orchard+made+him+eager+to+continue.+
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Growing the Musicians of Tomorrow

Zaslav and a student named Miles. Zaslav recalls that when asked whether he would continue playing the trumpet, the mentee replied that he was thinking about quitting, but Music Orchard made him eager to continue.

Zaslav and a student named Miles. Zaslav recalls that when asked whether he would continue playing the trumpet, the mentee replied that he was thinking about quitting, but Music Orchard made him eager to continue.

Zaslav and a student named Miles. Zaslav recalls that when asked whether he would continue playing the trumpet, the mentee replied that he was thinking about quitting, but Music Orchard made him eager to continue.

Zaslav and a student named Miles. Zaslav recalls that when asked whether he would continue playing the trumpet, the mentee replied that he was thinking about quitting, but Music Orchard made him eager to continue.

Sophia McCrimmon

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As Jake Zaslav (`16) completes his final year at Maggie Walker, he’s preparing to depart from more than just old friends and four years of study. He’ll also be leaving behind Music Orchard, an organization he started in 2012 which provides free music lessons to local elementary school students.

This school year, you may have noticed their participation at Fall Fest, or their heightened social media presence; according to Zaslav these are all components of a larger attempt to expand and evolve.  “We’re planning on expanding to a third school so we need a lot more mentors this year, and so part of our expansion in social media is to prepare for that,” he said. As he looks to the future, Zaslav says he’s focused on increasing the responsibility of the organization’s administration and delegating power among fellow leaders of the program, such as Associate Director Ellie Kim (`17), Assistant Director at William Fox Elementary School Willow Kwak (`18), and Assistant Director at Linwood Holton Elementary School Dharaa Rathi (`17).

Zaslav started the program three years ago, but his passion for music extends far beyond that point. Over his twelve years playing trumpet, he’s observed the many different paths that young musicians can pursue. Zaslav recalled the story one talented musician in his elementary school band, a student named Clark, who was known for his talent but ultimately stopped playing music as the years passed. “I always thought that if Clark had had private lessons like I did when I was little then he would have continued to play and would have gone on to be a great member of the music community.” That experience helped Zaslav realize the importance of one-on-one music lessons, where students are able to develop a relationship with their teachers. He established the program with this goal in mind, and in his eyes it has certainly come to pass.“What really makes Music Orchard special is that people do have great relationships with the kids,” Zaslav said.

Though the benefits for mentees in the program are highly meaningful, Zaslav emphasizes that the program is deeply rewarding for mentors as well. “We get a lot of mentors who have only been playing for a few years and when they come to us they’re kind of at a crossroads for music,” Zaslav said, “For those people, the program gives them a motivation to continue playing.” In addition, the program can simply help mentors practice their own basic skills. “When you’ve been playing for five or ten years it’s hard to remember to sit up straight every time,” he noted.

Mentors are also able to expand their perspective on life in Richmond by working with students from less advantaged backgrounds. “A lot of our mentors may come from more affluent areas, yet we go into really diverse schools with diverse levels of income,” Zaslav said. For example, the organization has a program at Linwood Holton Elementary, a Title I school. “I think it kind of provides kids with a different perspective of Richmond,” he continued.

Over his time at the helm of the organization, Zaslav has watched Music Orchard grow significantly in size; It now provides lessons to forty five elementary school students with the help of twenty five mentors- primarily local high school and college students. Looking towards the future, he only sees more opportunity for expansion. Over the summer, the organization solidified a partnership with the Richmond Symphony, a connection which will give Music Orchard greater access to professional musicians, educational expertise, and even clinics with Richmond Symphony members. Most exciting for Zaslav, however, is the opportunity for mentees to perform at the Richmond Symphony’s annual festival. “I’ve always wanted to have a recital for the kids…it’s very exciting.” Support from such an established institution, coupled with Music Orchard’s skillful leadership, make Zaslav confident that the program will keep going strong in Richmond. The organization’s plans don’t end there, however. Keeping the goals of the program in mind, Zaslav plans to expand beyond the River City by starting a program wherever he attends college, potentially in large urban areas like Chicago or Boston.

Music Orchard is currently accepting mentor applications for the spring of 2016, and Zaslav encourages all those interested in playing an instrument to consider participating. He also urges prospective applicants not to be intimidated if they don’t have a decade of musical experience under their belt. “Really our goal isn’t as much to make these kids a lot better at music, but to make them realize how great music is and to keep them interested.” he said. The program is also looking for students to take photos and videos, so even those non-musically inclined can participate.

Apply online by December 19th by visiting musicorchard.org or emailing [email protected]

 

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Sophia McCrimmon, Editor-in-Chief

Sophia McCrimmon, a senior at Maggie Walker, serves as the Editor-in-Chief for the Jabberwock and has worked on the staff since her freshman year. In her...

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