This Sunday, the four powerhouses of NC State a cappella — Acappology, Grains of Time, Ladies in Red and Wolfgang — will perform alongside the NC State Jazz Combo, but the real star of this show isn’t a cappella or jazz. The concert, a benefit for the NC State chapter of Musical Empowerment, will feature five elementary school-age students musically trained by NC State student mentors.
The benefit will be held in Stewart Theatre from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Musical Empowerment is a North Carolina organization originally formed in Chapel Hill with the goal of providing free one-on-one music lessons to “children in under-served communities,” according to their mission statement. The NC State chapter of the club has been around since 2015.
“We find passionate, dedicated NC State students who are proficient in a particular instrument or instruments,” said Shane Reagan, senior co-president of the NC State chapter of Musical Empowerment and a fourth-year studying electrical and computer engineering. “We’ve had students who are proficient in violin, piano, trumpet, flute, etc.”
Musical Empowerment pairs an NC State student mentor with a serviced child, usually ranging in age from late elementary school to early middle school, for weekly one-on-one tutoring and mentorship.
“All of our students had no musical backgrounds before taking music lessons with us and now they are playing pieces that are thought to be difficult in middle school and they are either still in elementary school or just entering middle school,” Reagan said.
Reagan said the students will be playing a variety of musical pieces based on their experience. Some students have only been learning under Musical Empowerment for a few years while others have been with the three-year-old chapter since it was formed. One student will be playing the Imperial March from Star Wars on the trumpet, according to Reagan.
Perry Currin, junior co-president for the chapter and a third-year studying science education, said he is very appreciative of the NC State groups volunteering for the benefit.
“We’ve got four a cappella groups,” Currin said. “They’ve been volunteering their time and they volunteered at our last benefit concert. We’re very gracious for them. Obviously music has been a big part of their lives — the singers in these a cappella groups — so it’s fantastic that they want to help give back to the organization and that they support the cause. We have the NC State Jazz Combo performing. That’s going to be exciting too.”
Tickets to the benefit cost $10 for the general public, $8 for non-NC State students and $5 for NC State students. Reagan said all of the money raised through ticket sales from Sunday’s benefit will go directly towards purchasing new instruments, repairing the instruments currently being used to teach and purchasing music lesson books.
“A large majority of our instrument inventory is actually donated,” Reagan said. “We’ll get families and parents throughout the community whose children have left the nest, so to speak, and they just have these instruments lying around in their house. They’ll contact us and say, ‘hey we have a pair of flutes in our attic that we’d love to donate’ or ‘we have a keyboard that our children don’t use anymore.’”
In addition to using donated instruments, Musical Empowerment at NC State purchases instruments using money from grants, donations and funds from Student Government. In addition to raising funds for new equipment, Regan and Currin said they hope the benefit increases awareness of the group on campus.
“We use our benefit concert as our biggest publicity event of the year,” Reagan said. “We’re trying to get bigger and bigger. Musical Empowerment in the UNC area is pretty well known. A few years down the road, we want to reach that status here in Raleigh.”
Currin said the organization is always looking for new NC State student teachers. Currently, the organization has 11 student-teacher pairs.
“In quantity of pairs would be one really obvious way to grow,” Currin said. “Just having [a larger] volume of students who come in to NC State and have musical experiences in their background and who want to give those opportunities to younger students in the community. Increasing the number of pairs and having more lessons every week would be our number one priority.”
Tickets are available to purchase in a couple of ways. Musical Empowerment will be selling tickets in the second floor lobby of Talley Student Union 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Links to purchase tickets online are also found through the group’s Facebook page.
Musical Empowerment NC State has one more event planned for the semester. On April 15, the organization will hold a student recital at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, located off of Clark Avenue.