It has been a wonderful experience working with students in Memphis through the Memphis Music Initiative. Along with my position as a fellow with the Initiative, I also work at Rhodes College as an Adjunct Professor of Flute, perform with various musical ensembles in the Mid-South, and I am the Founder/Co- Artistic Director of an innovative music festival in N. Ireland. Before moving to Memphis three years ago, I spent many years performing and teaching in many different countries, such as England, Spain, Ireland, and the U.S.
I have been with MMI since the pilot semester in Spring 2015. As one of the initial 10 “In School Fellows,” it has been fascinating to see the Initiative develop and grow, and to witness the impact it is having on youth in Memphis. The early months of the Initiative were particularly memorable due to the excitement and raw energy in the organization. We knew that we were part of a ground breaking project that would allow us to be teaching artists in schools. Our role was not only to support music programs but also to inspire, impact, and mentor students in the city.
This is now my fourth semester with MMI, and it has continued to be a great experience to work in a program that drives youth development through music. When students are encouraged and given the tools to be creative through music, it gives them confidence in many other facets in their lives. My role as a fellow has also been a moving experience as students have shown daily appreciation for my work with them. As a mentor, I have realized the importance of my position, as past students have kept in regular contact, continuing to visit me to ask for advice.
My work as a fellow for MMI is constantly evolving, and I always strive to find the best way to inspire and help my students grow. My role has included starting beginners on their instruments, creating chamber music groups, helping them prepare for auditions, and writing college recommendations for my students. I have even taken traditional songs from my students’ different cultures, and notated and arranged them for their chamber groups at their request. One of the future collaborative projects with MMI is to bring Memphis students to the Walled City Music Festival in N. Ireland, where I have been Artistic Director for nine years. As someone who has benefited from experiences abroad, I know the mind opening impact that traveling and experiencing different cultures from other parts of the world can have on youth.
Students in Memphis are fortunate to have a unique once in a lifetime opportunity that MMI has created. I firmly believe that the project is changing the futures for many youth, allowing them to see their lives in a different way through inspiration, enlightening their education through musical experiences, and enabling them to have motivation towards reaching their full potential.
Dr. Sabrina Hu is Flute Faculty at Rhodes College, Artistic Director of the Walled City Music Festival in Derry, N. Ireland, and a Fellow for the Memphis Music Initiative. In her spare time, she loves traveling the world.