June 14, 2024
broken clouds Clouds 62 °F

The right note: Harpur Fellow project brings music lessons to disadvantaged children

Economics major Jesslyn Chan finds a personal way to give back to the local community

Jesslyn Chan, an economics major and a Harpur Fellow, created a four-week summer music program for disadvantaged children. Jesslyn Chan, an economics major and a Harpur Fellow, created a four-week summer music program for disadvantaged children.
Jesslyn Chan, an economics major and a Harpur Fellow, created a four-week summer music program for disadvantaged children. Image Credit: Provided photo.

In her classes, Jesslyn Chan read about the stigma experienced by people in poverty. It struck a chord: She was determined to do something about it.

In the summer of 2023, the Harpur Fellow created a music program for the YWCA’s summer program in downtown Binghamton. For four weeks, she worked with around 10 children ages 6 to 11, providing games, activities, piano lessons, plus a field trip to the Binghamton Music & Jazz Festival.

With funding from the Harpur Fellows program, she also provided the children with musical keyboards they could keep.

“I grew up playing music, and my friends are all music kids as well,” explained Chan, who comes to Binghamton from East Brunswick, N.J. “When I was coming up with the project, I tried to find something that would be personally meaningful to me but also helpful to the kids.”

Chan took up the trombone in fifth grade and the tuba in sixth, and later made friends through marching band. Admittedly, she hasn’t continued playing since graduating high school; tubas are not easy to come by and don’t make ideal instruments for solo practice.

Access to music lessons and instruments is a privilege that not everyone has, she reflected. So, she provided both.

The experience was also in line with her professional goals; she hopes to one day work in public policy.

“I really like working with children, which is something I didn’t realize before,” she said. “Once I came back to campus, it made the City of Binghamton feel more familiar and that it had more to offer than I thought.”

A graduating senior, Chan is spending her spring semester in Florence, Italy. While studying abroad is valuable, she also recommends that her fellow Bearcats explore their off-campus horizons in other ways by getting involved in local community organizations. Binghamton will feel more like home, and students will have a chance to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

“Being able to work with people one-on-one in my own community is different than the service work of donating money,” she said. “Having contact with real people is important.”

Posted in: Arts & Culture, Harpur