“It’s about giving back. You never know what seed you are going to plant with these kids.”
For Chelsea Sharpe, being involved in community outreach programs runs in the family. Chelsea’s mother fell in love with music when she learned to play the violin in Kindergarten through a program very much like Thornton Outreach. When Chelsea and her siblings were young, their mother enrolled them in lessons because she wanted to share the experience and love for music with her children. Through these early lessons Chelsea developed a passion for music leading her to complete a Violin Performance degree from Rice University and pursue a Masters degree in Violin Performance at USC. Realizing the impact community music programs made on her family, Chelsea joined the Thornton Community Engagement Program to help children in similar situations. According to Chelsea, “It’s about giving back. You never know what seed you are going to plant with these kids.”
During the 2015-16 school year Chelsea taught Adventures in Music to fourth graders at Vermont Elementary and directed a JazzReach Choir at Murchison Elementary School. Chelsea observed that, “Most of the kids were very quiet, reserved, and unsure in the beginning. Now they are more outgoing and excited than ever.” For example, by the end of the 2016 school year, her smallest but most enthusiastic student, Carlos, had begun offering insightful and adorable commentary every class. In addition to gaining confidence, Chelsea noticed her students had begun practicing outside of class, remembering more from their lessons each week, and even developing new friendships.
The enthusiasm from her students lit a fire in Chelsea, which fueled her even when she was stressed about school or life. After teaching with Thornton Outreach for a year, being a teacher became an integral part of Chelsea’s identity as a musician. “Just as much as we inspire the kids, I feel like they do the same for us. Community outreach programs have helped my love for music blossom, and now I get to plant the same seeds in my own students.”