Music Mania: Music Education Impact on Children and Mentors

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

During my sophomore year, I was tutoring a kid from Music Mentors of Pomona Valley, a program that gives free private music lessons to underprivileged students. My mentee was extremely vibrant and intelligent, but most importantly committed to learning a new music piece on the piano. The piece was “Payphone” by Maroon 5, a popular song at that time. Excited to teach, I found the easiest version of the song that I could and adapted it to make it easier. On the first day of my one-on-one with him, I had one of those “teachable moments.” He stared at the sheet music for a bit, and then it hit me that he did not know how to read music.

First class of Music Mania ever

This “aha” moment led to another conversation, one I had with the head of the program. After talking, I had confirmed my suspicions that this was a common problem throughout the program. Music lessons are expensive and a privilege for people to take, but they also provide music theory background, the building blocks of learning how to play an instrument. From there, I was inspired to create a separate program on music theory education, one that would utilize a group setting to create a sense of community while teaching the subject matter.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Executive Board of 2014-2015, Jessica Bass ’17, Nitin Kuppanda ’17, and Sharon Chiang ’17, smiles after successful class and planning

Since then, Music Mania was born and has increased by 75% from the 20 students enrolled the first year, with mentor involvement increasing by five times. Kathleen Muenzen, lead mentor of Music Mania, shared her thoughts on why she joined the organization: “I joined Music Mania because music is my passion, and I am always searching for ways to make other people as excited about it as it makes me! I am also a strong believer in early exposure to music, both because it’s great for brain development and because it is something that can bring so much joy to life.”

The success of Music Mania serves as a reminder that an idea is powerful enough to create change in a community. From my perspective, I’ve learned much about how to create effective programs that best suit the kids of the program, especially during early childhood development. In return, I hope they take away from our mission to foster a sense of confidence through group interaction and a better understanding of music theory.

By: Sharon Chiang

I-phone and Sleep: Not a good match

Last night, I finished writing an essay at 11:30 p.m. and promised myself that I would sleep at 12:00 a.m. As I settled into bed, I grabbed my computer to watch the latest episode of Suits. An hour later, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed on my phone. I finally went to sleep at 2:00 a.m.   

I’ve noticed that looking at my phone prior to sleeping has actually extended my bedtime by at least one hour. There are days where I’ve fallen asleep at 3:00 a.m. after binge-watching TV shows and shopping hauls on YouTube.

Research reveals that using a light-emitting electronic device, such as a laptop or phone, prior to sleeping has a negative impact on one’s health and sleep schedule. A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences revealed that individuals who read books on an i-pad took longer to fall asleep, were less sleepy before bedtime, and less alert in the morning even after 8 hours of sleep as compared to individuals who read printed books.

Much to my dismay, I have been experiencing the same symptoms. I am unable to fall asleep at 12:00 a.m. and even when I wake up for a 10:00 a.m. class. I have trouble staying awake despite getting over 8 hours of sleep. Moreover, I’ve also found that this is beginning to interfere with my daily schedule. Last semester, I used to make an effort to work out in the morning, but this semester I’ve witnessed a decline in exercise as I am incapable of waking up before 9:00 a.m.

I’ve noticed that many of my friends and peers face the same problem. Even those who are aware of the negative effects of excessive screen time have not made an effort to alter their habits. While using technology in college is unavoidable, perhaps more awareness needs to be directed to this issue.


Women & Leadership Workshop: From Then to Now

Evelyn Mittler ’18 and Sharon Chiang ’17 at the 8th Annual Women and Leadership Workshop photo booth

This week, I attended CMC’s 8th Annual Women & Leadership Workshop, co-sponsored by Berger Institute, Kravis Leadership Institute, and Robert Day School. As a senior, I fondly remember the first time I attended the conference two years ago. The Women & Leadership Conference holds dear memories for me as it was not only the start of one of my strong mentor relationships, but also a crucial turning point in my career trajectory. Finding an internship as a sophomore in college is challenging enough as it is, but the added stress of switching from applying to biotech research opportunities to a professional internship made it a bigger obstacle for me. However, the conference makes socializing with industry professionals and alumni a fun experience and gives a great first introduction to networking.

So, what did I learn this time around? As the keynote speaker, Victoria Halsey, points out, much of leadership comes from language. For women, it may be difficult to voice what they need, especially when they think they can do the task by themselves. However, everyone can use support and help from time to time; you just need to know how to ask for it. In the Blanchard situational leadership model,  Halsey describes four main stages of leadership:
  1. Directing: Where the person is inexperienced but excited to learn
  2. Coaching: Where the person is inexperienced but loses excitement to learn
  3. Supporting: Where the person is competent but not fully confident in their abilities yet
  4. Delegating: Where the person is competent and confident
Knowing which stage you are at can allow you to better vocalize what needs you have. On the other hand, as a leader, knowing where your employees or co-workers are at can facilitate better communication.
As I move forward with my career path and seeing how much I have grown since the last conference, I look forward in utilizing the leadership model to ask more specifically for what I want. Additionally, I look forward to assisting other CMCers who have been in my position sophomore year and encouraging them to continue pursuing their goals.

By: Sharon Chiang ’17

Women’s Leadership Workshop at CMC

Last week, The Berger Institute along with The Kravis Leadership Institute and the Robert Day School of Economics hosted the 8th annual Women’s Leadership Workshop at the Athenaeum. Designed to connect 5C students with successful female leaders, the workshop featured alumnae from fields such as law, non-profit, consulting, and education.

The event started with an inspiring talk by Victoria Halsey, author and VP of Applied Learning at The Ken Blanchard Companies. Mrs. Halsey stressed the importance of communication in leadership. She pointed out that what sets a leader apart from others is their ability to overcome the assumed constraint of asking questions without fear. As women, we often believe that we need to do everything on our own when, in truth, leadership emerges from collaboration and extending a helping hand.

Following Mrs. Halsey’s talk, students were given the opportunity to briefly chat with alumnae about their experiences in the workforce. The alumnae I spoke with highlighted the value of combining one’s professional and social goals in order to excel. For instance, after hitting a plateau in her career, one of the alumna quit her job and sought a volunteer position as president of a non-profit organization. Non-profits pursue professionals with extensive leadership experience, but often cannot afford their desired wages. Temporarily moving to a volunteer-based position can enrich your experience and allow you to go back to the corporate world prepared to move up the ladder – all while giving back.

Emotional Labor: The Managed Heart

Most of the time, when viewing job descriptions, many of the same qualities appear: “Demonstrated leadership,” “Team player,” “High-quality analytical and problem-solving skills,” “Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills.” However, these frequent buzzwords for the traits that come with job qualifications almost assume that emotional labor should be a part of the workforce.

In my Sociology of Emotions class, sociologist Arlie R. Hochschild talks about how emotional labor is not acknowledged or compensated in the workplace. For instance, in the American culture where “the customer is always right,” people must mitigate their own emotional reactions to the demands of the customers in order to perform their job well. However, is this a demand that should be more explicitly stated in the workplace? In Hochschild’s book The Managed Heart, she states that the “method acting” during a job can undermine the authenticity of one’s emotion. For instance, when great customer service is expected, a person in the workplace may forget to put his or her emotions as a priority. In a society where emotions are commoditized, there is less value on expressing one’s true emotions as opposed to the emotions that are expected from either customers or society.

Does this mean that the compensation for emotional labor should be explicitly stated? This proves some complications as people handle emotional labor in different ways. Since it is a subjective topic, it is hard to outline in a contract. However, that should not diminish the importance of its acknowledgement in society. Hochschild brings to light the gendered expectations of emotional labor in the workforce. While women are expected to be more tolerant and compromising, this emotional labor is seen as “expected” and therefore taken for granted. However, there is hope in bringing these issues to light. By having the conversation of the different expectations in emotional labor, there is an easier path to bring up these discussions in the future.

By: Sharon Chiang