Learning the Inner-Workings of TPMS: Sarah’s Summer Internship Experience

am high energy and I work hardest when the energy around me is strong and positive, so it is no wonder that I feel at home at The People’s Music School. I first started volunteering at The People’s Music School one year ago tutoring the younger children on the piano. I enjoyed working with the “smaller” musicians. I loved revisiting pieces that I had played years earlier. I smiled to myself as I reminded the students to sit up straight and curve their fingers, points that my piano teacher are still making to me! But it was the smiles I received when a piece was played through perfectly, and the gracious thank you’s at the end of each lesson that convinced me to ask Jennifer Matsuzawa, the President & Artistic Director, if there was a greater way for me to help The People’s Music School last summer.

Luckily for me there are always jobs that need to be done at The People’s Music School. I spent time helping out at a week-long summer camp. The program started every morning when a bus full of excited and chatty kids rolled up to The People’s Music School. The kids were most excited about playing their instruments, but for an hour after lunch they diligently worked on learning notes in music theory. In the middle of the summer, a time for relaxing, students choose to spend an hour or more each day in a classroom.  I saw first hand that The People’s Music School was doing more than teaching kids how to hold a violin bow, or what a key signature is. I realized that The People’s Music School is instilling discipline and cultivating curious minds, teaching a group of students want to learn and putting them on a path to become responsible and and well-rounded adults.

 I volunteered again at The People’s Music School over the past winter and I was asked to help Miss Caroline’s class. Every week I was impressed with the speed with which the kids learned each piece and their never ending enthusiasm. We played games to practice sight reading and performed for new pieces for each other. But my favorite part about lessons was what happened after every performance. The students reviewed each other’s performances, describing what they did well, how they didn’t miss a note, or how good their dynamics were. It gave every student something to smile about and bring home at the end of every lesson. The way Miss Caroline makes every student feel special is inspiring to the students, and to me.

As the school year wound down I spoke with Alli Henry and Jennifer about my plans for the summer. They offered me an internship at The People’s Music School, giving me an opportunity to see the operations first hand. It is staggering how much I have learned in such a short time. I learned about collaboration by working with most every faculty member at The People’s Music School on assorted projects. I developed better people skills while seated at the front desk because it was up to me to help anyone who called or walked through the doors of The People’s Music School. This also helped me focus on being more patient when I had to talk to the occasional frustrated or confused parent. The most significant thing I learned from my time at The People’s Music School is a sense of all of the administration that goes into running an organization, though. It was an eye opener – I never knew how many people it took to provide such a needed service for the community. Now as school is starting up again and my internship is ending, I hope to be back volunteering at The People’s Music School this winter.

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