Bringing Harmony and Unity Through Music


Junior Roy Bae proceeds to play the piece at the Christmas concert with three of his mentees to demonstrate the students’ growth over a couple months.

Junhee Ryu, Business Manager

From reading basic notes on a page to reading a full sheet of music, children establish a deep relationship with volunteers as they learn how to play their instruments and appreciate music in only a couple of months.

Love in Music is a nonprofit organization established in 2007 with the objective to bring opportunities to underprivileged students in Los Angeles and Orange County areas. Student volunteers, including some from Portola High, actively engage in their passion for music, as well as share their passion to bring about change in their local communities.

What really sets this experience apart from other volunteering opportunities is the fact that it encourages direct interaction that binds and unites people of different social statuses.

“As I teach those who are less fortunate than a lot of us, it is a humbling experience to be able to see that even in the worst situations, the love in music can make a great impact,” volunteer and junior Daniel Han said. “I wish that my students not only learn to play and love music, but also to find happiness in the smallest opportunities of joy regardless of the circumstances they are in.”

The musical faculty mainly includes high school volunteers playing the guitar, piano, clarinet, flute, violin, cello and trumpet. There are individual rooms for each instrument, where students are less distracted and able to listen to their own sounds and adjust accordingly.

The organization also fosters a mentor-mentee style of teaching, where one volunteer is usually paired with another student playing the same instrument. Although communication is easier this way, volunteers sometimes find themselves struggling when their mentees do not see immediate progress and become frustrated, initially lowering motivation to continue playing.

“[One] struggle that I faced was that the kids would not always follow my instructions, such as when I asked them to play some notes, they would slouch in their chairs or ask to go out,” volunteer and sophomore Theo Kim said. “The way I overcame this problem was by just becoming more friendly with them and not force playing if they didn’t want to. This, in turn, made the kids more willing to play when I asked them to.”

Although there definitely are some challenges, the main takeaway that students get from participating weekly is that music can serve as a universal language and spread joy, passion and appreciation to students of all races and social positions.

“Throughout this program, I hope that the students are able to understand not only the details of music, but most importantly the stronger connection that can be made with music between them [the students] and their audiences,” volunteer and junior Brett Shin said.

Love for Music is always open for new high school volunteers and tax-deductible donations. The program will host its twelfth annual concert on June 1 at Santa Ana KidWorks, the same location where the music lessons take place, to celebrate all the students’ progress.