06 Feb Music & Mentoring
Kids in a New Groove (KING) is an organization that seeks to provide children in foster care with a consistent, one-on-one mentoring relationship through private music lessons. Often time’s kids in foster care have not seen or experienced relationships that are built upon trust and consistency. Because of this, simply showing up each week for a music lesson can be incredibly impactful for these kids.
Julie Fiore has been a mentor with KING for four years now and has had the opportunity to mentor 20 kids. We recently had the chance to sit down and hear about her experience and would like to share it with you.
When beginning her work with KING, Julie had extensive musical experience and experience teaching music as well. Julie found that the kids that she began to teach and mentor through KING had a great capacity to learn quickly and adapt well. This was something that stood out to her as she thought that their learning might be inhibited based upon their past and present circumstances. This was not the case, they learned and adapted just as well as the students Julie taught through private lessons. Music served as a way for these kids to express themselves and develop empathy. It created an avenue to build rapport and trust, and they began to feel comfortable opening up.
Openness and talking did not always come easily or right away. Often times when Julie began mentoring a kid she could barely get them to speak the first few weeks. However, after trust was built Julie said, “the kids came barreling through with personality, and wit, lots of smarts, and passion when it seemed like they didn’t have any passion left in them at all about anything.” These kids were allowed to be kids and the passion and joy hidden in them began to show when given the chance. Through this process, and the many relationships Julie developed with kids in foster care, she describes herself as a much more empathetic person. She said that she found that she has more in common with these kids than she ever thought she would. Julie described that “you don’t have to be crazy careful when you talk to them, you know, just talk to them like they are people”. From her experience mentoring, she is able to recognize that “foster care kids are not that much different from regular kids, they just have a few more layers to peel through”.
KING provides kids in foster care with “an outlet where they are able to be expressive, a time that is just for them, a person that is coming every week JUST to see them”. For these kids, the music is exciting and special, but it is much more than that, it is about being there and showing up. They are already expecting you to not show up. When you walk in every week, you are showing and teaching them dependability, trust, and love.
As a music teacher and professional, Julie encourages anyone to get involved with KING. She said, “It changes the way you teach in the best way possible. It forces you to, as a teacher and a musician, to become much more adaptive in your expectations”. Julie has had a student perform at the X-games as well as SXSW who then saved up her own money to buy a guitar so she could further her musical abilities. You will certainly have the opportunity to impact someone’s life through this and it’s unlikely that you will walk away the same. She ended our conversation by stating, “My job is just to be there, I can’t save them”.
We cannot save the kids that are in the foster care system, but we can certainly support them and develop a positive relationship with them. Showing up and being a consistent person in the lives of kids in foster care is a bigger deal than we may ever realize. We can choose to show up and seek social and relational restoration for them while hoping in the eternal restoration that God promises us.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
*Julie Fiore is a musician, actor, and teacher based in Austin. She founded One Ounce Opera, an alt-classical performing arts company, and regularly performs various styles of music regionally and nationally. A music mentor for Kids in a New Groove and faculty member at Armstrong Community Music School, Julie has a private studio teaching voice and piano. She studied at University of North Texas (BMus) and Lamont School of Music in Denver (MMus).