Set on enlisting Pomona student musicians to give free lessons to kids, Gabriel Friedman ’12 landed a $10,000 grant from the Donald A. Strauss Public Service Foundation to help pay for cellos, violins and other instruments. But his path to becoming a music mentor began long before that:
1) Get placed in a kiddie music class by your mom at age 3. Dig it. Begin piano in the second grade. Take lessons through high school.
2) Keep at the keyboard after coming to Pomona to study neuroscience. Start giving lessons after getting introduced to a mom looking for someone to teach her daughters. Around the same time, sign on as a mentor working with low-income kids for the nonprofit Uncommon Good.
3) Land a summer neuroscience fellowship in Vermont. Hear a speaker talk about the role of music training in children’s brain development. Hatch a plan to have Pomona students give music lessons to kids whose families can’t afford them.
4) Apply for a grant to buy instruments. Set off for a semester of study abroad in Europe. Get the good news about the grant in a barely-audible call over a hostel phone in Rome. Return to Pomona and start enlisting mentors.
5) See a slew of Sagehens sign up. Hold a fair for kids to check out different instruments. Watch the boys flock to the drums and electric guitars. Help the giddy kids try them out.
6) Carry on weekly lessons. Hold a big recital at the end of the year. See the young musicians perform with aplomb.
7) Hand off the program to next year’s coordinator. Prepare to apply to med school. Plan to keep at the piano.
– Mark Kendall