Mariah Goldsmith, 9th Grader at CRLS practices saxophone with PBHA Harmony volunteer David Armenta '17. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Walking through a labyrinth of orange hallways to a practice room in Paine Hall, saxophonist Mariah Goldsmith, a ninth-grader at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, fine-tunes the details of her upcoming performance at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge with David Armenta ’17, a volunteer with Harvard and Radcliffe Musical Outreach to Neighborhood Youth (HARMONY), which provides instrumental and vocal instruction for children in the Cambridge Public Schools.
“I was teaching Mariah a new concept, but it didn’t really feel like it was sinking in. I tried explaining it a new way, and then tried to get her to explain it to me, and as she worked through an explanation, I saw the slow look of realization and awe sneak across her face. She got it!” explained Armenta. “That moment is great motivation for me to continue teaching. I’m glad that I am able to teach someone through HARMONY — teaching Mariah has taught me about my own limitations and strengths, and not just as a teacher. I learned more about myself as a student.”
HARMONY — one of Phillips Brooks House Association’s more than 70 volunteer programs — targets children who would especially benefit from individual or group musical instruction because they would otherwise be unable to afford private music lessons. In addition, HARMONY runs an after-school program to give younger students exposure to music of all genres.
Volunteer Lucy Nam ’17, who tutors eighth-grader Alex Sadock from the Cambridge Street Upper School, echoes Armenta’s joy: “I would say that teaching my student is one of the many things I look forward to every week and I love the chance to hear my student improve from week to week. Every year, we put on a final recital and it is amazing to hear a compilation of music from students taught by other Harvard teachers. HARMONY is a great organization and I am happy to see that the program has increased many students’ interest in music.”