August 25, 2021

The Power of Music

Mark Lynch

Music taught me how to learn. I was fortunate to have music education in school starting in 5th grade. I picked drums because they looked the easiest. Drumming quickly became my passion though, and with the support of my family, school, and private music instructors, I found out that drumming and music are limitless. It’s not that something is easy or hard, it’s how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.

Because I enjoyed music so much, I really dove deep. I would take up any challenge without apprehension because I knew that with practice, I could be successful.

Later in life, I realized that this confidence, borne from learning an instrument, was the foundation on which the rest of my education was built. There was no more, “I can’t.” I knew that I could if I put in the effort.

That is why I volunteered as a mentor for Kids in a New Groove (KING). I wanted to pass that foundational knowledge of learning and confidence on to others.

WR and I were matched while he was a freshman in high school. He had already had some lessons, but it was unclear what he had learned from formal education and what he had taught himself by watching YouTube videos. He had memorized cadences from a movie about drumline. It was scary how quickly he would pick up a new rudiment or technique. I was going to run out of things to teach this young man in a handful of lessons! I was worried.

“This is why I volunteered as a mentor for Kids in a New Groove (KING). I wanted to pass that foundational knowledge of learning and confidence on to others”

– Mark Lynch

But then WR did something I did not expect. He voluntarily pushed himself into unfamiliar, uncomfortable ground. He wanted to improve at reading music. Not only that but sight-reading music. I was flabbergasted; I was amazed by his bravery; also, I was terrified. I haven’t read music in decades!

Sure, I know how to read music, but it’s not something I do in my day to day. And to bring WR up to reading music to the level at which he could play was going to be high math. If he was willing to work on it though, so was I.

Every time we met, I would bring a new piece to work through. Prior to each lesson, I would practice the difficult parts relentlessly, so I could present them all nonchalant like, “Yeah, this part’s a little tricky, I think it goes like this.” I rarely had an opportunity to make these corrections, though. He was devouring everything I would bring him.

It’s not that WR was bored; He was enjoying the challenge. He was stepping up and thriving.

After a while, we decided to work on a big, difficult piece. Something he could use for recitals and auditions. We broke it into sections so he could really focus on the details. Then we worked on putting the whole thing together. Then we worked on speed – drumming is always more impressive when you play fast. As our lessons progressed over the next few years, we kept coming back to this piece to keep it fresh and to fine-tune it.

“The KING program provided both WR and me with the tools (both literally and figuratively) to make these lessons happen.”

-Mark Lynch

I’m elated to say that this past Spring, WR used that piece to audition for his college marching band. Not only did he make the drumline, but he was also awarded a scholarship!

I haven’t mentioned how supportive KING was through all of this! The KING program provided both WR and me with the tools (both literally and figuratively) to make these lessons happen. Beyond that, KING had recitals, concerts, and field trip opportunities we took advantage of. They were always available if I needed advice.

My experience with KING and with WR has been incredible.

KING