By: Stewart Ricker
Kids often struggle to find their voice, now more than ever in the age of social media and increased pressure to conform to society’s standards. Off the Hook Arts (OtHA) understands this and strives to provide a solution to this frustrating dilemma. By supplying musical instruments and supporting education to interested youths, OtHA is changing young lives for the better, giving kids the confidence they need to grow into adulthood with a greater sense of focus, self-awareness, and identity.
Off the Hook Arts recently interviewed Cherry, the grandmother of an eleven-year-old Loveland girl who recently began taking violin lessons from Jeptha Bernstein, OtHA founder and Executive Director. She explained to us how her granddaughter’s music lessons impacted her life, helping her to dramatically improve her musical skills, as well as her general happiness and well-being.
Cherry recalls her introduction to OtHA by way of their early concerts, and being particularly impressed with the more classical elements of their performances.
“They bring in professional musicians from New York City and other places that are just superb,” Cherry says. “One concert that was really memorable for me this year was their Summer Fest… which was excellent, in particular a Dvořák trio that just took my breath away!”
Cherry goes on to explain the ways in which OtHA has benefitted her granddaughter. Since beginning her lessons with Jephta, Cherry has noted just how much her granddaughter has developed a more buoyant and outgoing personality. She saw noticeable improvement in her granddaughter’s self-esteem, which she credits heavily to the fact that her granddaughter was not only learning something, but also doing a good job at it. All the while building a positive relationship with a trusted teacher and new friend.
“Jephta is just an excellent teacher,” Cherry says. “She’s very patient, very complimentary, and very positive all the time, and if she hadn’t been, I don’t know if our granddaughter would’ve held in there as long as she did.”
In addition to building a healthy teacher-student relationship, Cherry credits Jephta for a significant increase in her granddaughter’s musical capabilities. In her lessons, “sometimes Jephta had her sing an exercise before playing it, and her singing definitely improved!” She began to notice just how much her granddaughter’s musical ear was beginning to flourish, most notably in her ability to tell when her violin was out of tune – a skill that she did not possess prior to beginning her lessons with Jephta.
“We know that [music lessons] do make a difference in brain development,” Cherry says. “I could see her beginning to focus better.” In her two years with Jephta, Cherry saw her granddaughter beginning to focus better in school, coupled with an increase in discipline. This leads Cherry to trust that if her granddaughter decides to do anything music-related later on in life, she will be better prepared, with stronger musical instincts and a greater appreciation for music as a whole.
When asked what she values most about her relationship with OtHA, Cherry recounts two things: having her granddaughter learn violin from Jephta, and attending OtHA concerts, which she highly recommends.
“I would also recommend their program [through] the Boys & Girls Club, where they provide free lessons and instruments to kids wanting to learn,” Cherry says. “When I was a child, my parents could afford piano lessons for me, and that’s been a blessing for my whole life. I’ve had many friends who have said, ‘Gee, I wish I could have had lessons when I was a kid,’ because it’s harder to pick up music or an instrument when you are an adult. There are so many people that wish they’d had that opportunity, and Off The Hook Arts is giving people that opportunity. I think that is just wonderful!”