March 24, 2023

Can children be mentors of other young ones?

This formula has been proven as efficient during the pandemic by a group of mothers and their children at Dontogan barangay in Baguio City.

In the parts where parents can’t teach their own youngsters, the older children have stepped in to tutor their siblings. But there is much wisdom and application in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child the way he should go, and when he grows old, he will never depart from it”.

Almost a year ago, these same batch of youth eagerly and passionately took up their ukuleles to learn music from Johnny Martinez. This music instructor patiently guided their fingers and lips through several instruments in a matter of months. The melodeum, flute, guitar, and keyboard were among the instruments that they learned in earnest. This filled their quarantined days with other activities apart from using the gadgets and answering modules.

But the more important element in the teaching was that he taught them to read the notes. Several months of strumming and keeping the rhythm prepared these first batch of learners to share their skills with a second batch of learners, the second batch eventually guiding a third level of learners from the dozen or more.

Music has filled the little room of the Breakfast Feeding for Learning Inc. Center on many days during the pandemic. The important part is letting go of the cellphones and tablets that strain the eyes and obsess others in gaming.

A team of 11  started to teach 11 children from the St. Thomas Estates once a week for an hour.

Lead by Valerie and Amor, both academic and music tutors, they earn P100 for the time used up. To many children this may not be much but having fun and earning for them is worth a broad smile that spares their parents from some school needs.

Amor, who is endowed with artistic talents and is an honor student in high school is unmindful of her accomplishments.

Valerie, who sees herself at the Center mentoring seventh and eighth graders and toting her guitar on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m., is glad for the chance to share music with other ones who want to learn from her.

Clarence, Jacky, Dulce, Maureen, April, Collyn, and Jacklyn are also happy ukulele teachers.

Perhaps, the unassuming and relaxed atmosphere with a common love for the same music will reinforce the learning.

Arkin, 12, who learns under Valerie said he has been a student of a music school for the last four years but he has learned more in one month than all the times at the music school. He said he likes it because he can play the songs that he wants to learn. The children here at STE have disciplined themselves to practice at least 15 minutes twice a day.

PacitaPanaguiton, president and leader of the BFLI, said the idea of the music tutorials came after the children caroled at the STE last Christmas. The young children of STE were eager to learn and bought their ukeleles to begin lessons when the idea was broached again in April. She said even the third batch of learners at the center eagerly bought their ukeleles.

In hindsight, in a conversation with the first music teacher in 2021, Martines said that this mentoring could give the children from the BFLI a chance to become high school and college scholars if they know how to play an instrument.

The complete education in note reading is vital to pass the test.  The scholarship for the band could help them get higher education from the universities that they will attend.

Music is a universal language and the joy that this brings is immeasurable, particularly for those who have more hours in the day to practice.

For Jade, the youngest student at STE who celebrated her birthday with a ukulele serenade, the attention from her peer teachers was overwhelming.