During my senor year of high school, I find myself ready to graduate, with no sure plans. I knew that I wanted to attend college, but was uncertain of my career path. The only certainty I had was my passion for music. I wanted to be a musician. However, I was continuously reminded that becoming a musician was not a real career. Fast forward 10 years later. I now find myself standing in front of a class full of juniors and seniors, asking that age-old question. What do you want to do with your life? As I am surveying the room I see this look of confusion across their faces, as if no one has ever sat down with them to have this conversation. Many, like myself at that age, were uncertain of their future and had no clue on what they were going to do after they high school. That’s when a voice from the back of the classroom asks “what do you do?” I reply, I am a musician from Memphis, Tennessee. A musician who not only writes and produces music but takes time to mentor inner city youth through music. After hearing this, side conversations immediately ceased and the students became engaged and wanted to hear more! It was at this time, I realized that I had captured their attention and made it okay for them to dream again. It was evident they were inspired by someone they personally identified with, who is using music as a real career.
My teaching philosophy is to help students to get excited about their future by making sure they are mentally and physically prepared for the world. I believe in showing them the road to take and equipping them with the knowledge to make wiser choices, while encouraging and motivating them to step outside of their comfort zone to get involved. I call this “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Challenging them to never give up when they fail. Failure is a necessary for success. Dust yourself off and try again! Helping them to understand that “It’s okay to be different” by encouraging individuality and imagination and also giving them assignments that endorse creativity.
Rapper/ songwriter/producer Chris Franceschi is not just using his talents to make his mark in the music industry. For the past three years, he has worked diligently to create opportunities for students to learn about the music industry as a mentor with MMI. Franceschi is currently mentoring at Memphis Catholic and St. John’s Catholic, a predominantly African American and Hispanic private school with a rich history in the community. Prior to working with MMI, he served as an Outreach Educator with Methodist Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for six years. Now, this community leader has found a way to merge his two passions – mentoring and music all thanks to Memphis Music Initiative.