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Norton Fellow Expands Music Outreach

With support from a Norton Fellowship, rising senior Ethan Levinbook this summer expanded upon a mentoring program for young musicians that he’d originated at Loomis Chaffee in 2017, to include local students with limited access to instrumental music instruction.  

Ethan identified three Greater Hartford grade-school students who were interested in taking music lessons and purchased special student-sized cellos with which they could learn and practice. He also purchased teaching supplies, planned lessons, and provided weekly individualized one-hour instruction to each student during a five-week period in July and August.

“You need more than lessons … to learn to play an instrument,” said Ethan, who has played the cello since he was five years old. “You really need a support network to help you work through challenges, so you don’t get discouraged.” Ethan said he’s benefited from the support of his family, teachers, and the music communities of which he’s been a part, including the community division of the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music.

Two years ago, Ethan launched the Loomis Chaffee Music Mentors community outreach program to offer one-on-one support to young people enrolled in instrumental music programs at local schools. Through the program, young music students come to Loomis for mentoring from Ethan and other Loomis student volunteers.

Ethan structured his Norton Fellowship summer project differently from the school-year mentorship program because the students he wanted to help do not have easy access to instruments and lessons. Ethan recognized that he would need to provide both instruments and initial lessons to these students. After the summer session, the three students will continue to use the instruments in order to participate in Loomis’ Music Mentors program during the school year.    

According to Ethan, his students and their parents responded positively to the experience, and he benefitted as well from the opportunity to interact with members of the community and share his love for music and for playing the cello.

“Teaching is a great way to further develop what I know about playing the cello. Thinking about what worked for me as a music student in order to share it with the students helped me to synthesize and distill what my teachers have taught me,” Ethan said. He added that he enjoyed seeing his students get excited about the cello.

Ethan’s busy summer also included attending at a student journalism conference in Washington, D.C., as he prepared to serve as editor-in-chief of Loomis’ student newspaper, The Log, this year. In addition, he worked in the Alexander Bookstore to fulfill his community work program commitment and toured colleges in preparation for the upcoming application process this fall.

Teaching the cello students this summer was a welcome change of pace — a time to focus on the needs of the students rather than himself, Ethan said — and he looks forward to continuing to teach the summer participants in the mentorship program this year.

Connect to Loomis' Norton Family Center for the Common Good webpage to learn more about the Norton Fellowship program and the center's objectives.