Rochester, N. Y. — Inspiring audiences is part of everyday life for Eastman School of Music students; now, thanks to the investment of a local company, Eastman students are also mentoring and providing motivation to young people every day.
First Niagara has given the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music a $10,000 gift to support music lessons and mentorship of approximately 70 Rochester City School District students, many of whom wouldn’t be able to afford private music lessons. The support will make a tremendous impact on the lives of musically talented students who come from a district where 80 percent of the families are below the federal poverty line, according to statistics posted on the Rochester City School District’s web site.
This is the third year First Niagara has supported Eastman Pathways, which is one aspect of the bank’s statewide “Mentoring Matters” program. The bank created “Mentoring Matters” to support community programs like Eastman Pathways that are actively involved with mentoring youth.
The Eastman Pathways program, a partnership between the Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) and the Rochester City School District, provides approximately 70 outstanding Rochester 5th through 12th grade students with scholarship aid to pursue an education from a world-renowned music school located right in their hometown. Each week, the students receive private music lessons and classes in music theory, music history, or piano. The school matches recommended students with experienced mentors who work closely with these children, their families, and teachers to help ensure student success.
The program has been in existence since 1997, but the new funding has increased the number of mentoring hours and activities for those in the program. Through the support of First Niagara, the program now includes events and forums, which enable the group to meet, discuss, and perform, and form strong bonds and relationships.
“Mentoring Matters allows us to play a direct role in supporting our community’s mentoring initiatives that touch the lives of thousands throughout upstate New York, specifically, our leaders of tomorrow,” said First Niagara Rochester Regional President Patrick Burke.
“Some of the most important components of our program include effective goal setting and life skills,” said Sophia Goluses, ECMS Pathways “Mentoring Matters” coordinator. “With more frequent social activities between mentors and students, we believe we can improve the interpersonal communication skills of all those participating.”
“There’s no doubt that lessons learned at an early age stay with you throughout your life,” said Jan Angus, a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and coordinator for Eastman Pathways. “These students are at a vital crossroad in their musical life, whether this is a future profession or hobby. We hope to guide them both in life and in their musical education.”
“Not only does the program give students an extra half-hour of personal instruction time per week, it also gives them a chance to work with a student who is only a few years older and can relate very well musically and personally with them,” said Dylan Smith, senior trumpet student at Eastman and mentor to Ian, a student from the School of the Arts. “Ian has made noticeable progress since we started working together and I look forward to our meetings every week.”
“The quality of our Pathways students continues to achieve ever higher levels,” said Howard Potter, associate dean for Community and Continuing Education and director of Eastman Pathways. “We are proud to say that in its twelfth year, the Eastman Pathways program has inspired many Rochester City School District students to pursue higher education. Highlighting the importance of mentorship at the Eastman Community Music School, we now have four alumni from the Eastman Pathways program who are currently pursuing their college degrees at the Eastman School of Music.”
About First Niagara
Founded as a community bank more than 140 years ago in Lockport, N.Y., First Niagara (www.fnfg.com) is a financial services company offering a range of personal and commercial banking solutions, as well as investment and insurance products. While dedicated to the same community-oriented philosophy, First Niagara is able to serve a greater number of customers with added products, services and convenience. First Niagara is located in 23 counties, with a workforce of 2,000 and 114 branches that span across New York State. The parent company, First Niagara Financial Group, Inc., trades on the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol FNFG.
About the Eastman Community Music School
The Eastman Community Music School (www.esm.rochester.edu/community) opened in 1921, at the same time as the Eastman School of Music. George Eastman’s vision was to create both a world-class music conservatory and a community music school dedicated to the musical education of area residents. Approximately 1,300 area citizens, ranging in age from 4 months to well over 90 years of age, enroll annually for classes, lessons, and ensembles in the Eastman Community Music School. The Eastman Community Music School receives many benefits from its affiliation with the world-class Eastman School of Music, such as shared faculty, extensive facilities (including concert/rehearsal halls and the world-famous Sibley Music Library), and an artistic environment which includes recitals, concerts, lectures, and master classes.
About the Eastman School of Music
The Eastman School of Music (www.esm.rochester.edu), located in Rochester, N.Y., is one of the world’s leading and top ranked music schools, educating 500 undergraduate and 400 graduate students annually in performance, composition, jazz studies and contemporary media, music education, theory, conducting, and musicology. The Eastman School was established in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, as the first professional school of the University of Rochester. The School’s more than 95 full-time faculty members include Grammy winners, Guggenheim Fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, and recording artists. Eastman’s prominent alumni include opera singers Renée Fleming, Anthony Dean Griffey, and the late William Warfield; jazz musicians Maria Schneider, Ron Carter, and Chuck Mangione; and composers Charles Strouse, Michael Torke, and the late Alexander Courage.
The school has 900 students enrolled in the collegiate division of the Eastman School, with 500 undergraduate and 400 graduate students. Students come from almost every state of the country with about 25 percent coming from abroad. About 260 new students enroll each year selected from more than 2,000 applicants.
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