Carrboro nonprofit uses free music lessons to motivate children in need

CARRBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ever notice how music can make you smile or soothe you? Music can also enhance your mood and even improve learning.

That's part of the reason a local organization is using music lessons to help reach kids who are otherwise underserved.

Musical Empowerment's mission is especially important with kids under so much stress during the pandemic

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The nonprofit based in Carrboro uses college musicians across the state to teach children who can't afford music tutoring.

"It's a great way for college students to get to know other college students with similar interests, a great way to give back to the community," said Musical Empowerment mentor Luke Cain.

Cain is a junior at UNC majoring in economics and political science with a minor in music.

He mentors 17-year-old Josiah Pongsitiphon, a junior at Carrboro High School.

"They taught me a lot about new stuff I've never learned before. And right now Luke is helping me with a little bit of music theory," said Josiah.

Josiah says he has close relationships with his tutors.

His first one was also a UNC student and even spent time with his family in their home country of Thailand.

And in those tutors he said he sees his future, "I get to build a relationship with like someone who goes to college and that helps me, like motivate me to go to college."

It's those kinds of relationships between underserved kids and their mentors that makes up the "empowerment" part of Musical Empowerment.

For many kids served by the nonprofit, the music teachers are among their best role models.

"Having those kind of islands of peace in the lives of these young folks is essential to becoming who they're supposed to be," said Shaun Andrews.

He recently became the first African American chairman of Musical Empowerment's board of directors.

One of the things he loves most about the organization's model is that it keeps paying it forward.

"One mentor, may beget three or four or 10 or 20 mentors," he said adding, "And it's just a spread of kindness and generosity, that's going to really impact the greater community."

Josiah Pongsitiphon is a perfect example saying, "Seeing them do this I also want to do this in college too."

Musical Empowerment is looking for college students with a knowledge of music to volunteer to help underserved kids in their college community.

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