- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (AP) - In her journey to become a famous singer and actress, 16-year-old Olivia Perovic is sharing the lessons she’s learned so far by serving as a mentor.

Music Mentors of Crystal Lake, a program matching high school musicians with their junior high counterparts, is in its fourth year. This summer has been Perovic’s first as a volunteer.

“I wanted to do it because I just love music, I love singing and I love hearing other people sing,” she said. “I really do like helping people discover their musical talent. I was one of those people who was kind of hidden before I uncovered mine, and I really like helping that along.”

Using space at the Lakeside Legacy Arts Park at the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake donated by the Lakeside Legacy Foundation, Music Mentors was started by Janet and Mark Myers.

The couple has three sons, all of whom played instruments.

To be a mentee, kids must be entering sixth grade in the fall and can participate through the summer after their eighth grade year.

“One thing as a parent that’s really frustrating is getting your kid to practice,” Janet Myers said. “So we thought we might motivate kids more if they actually spent some practice time with high school students.”

The program has grown each year, now double from where they started up to 21 mentors and 40 mentees. Available Tuesday through Friday, they handle all band instruments - trumpets, flutes, clarinets, percussion, saxophones, trombones, tubas - although they did have one request for a viola that they were unable to fulfill.

Myers said she hopes to help prevent “summer slide,” where kids lose some of what they were taught during the school year because of summer break.

“They just kind of lose interest and I think - I hope - that we’re interesting more kids in music because of what we do during the summer,” Myers said. “They get excited about it again.”

One-on-one sessions are 30 minutes long once a week. The mentees don’t pay and the mentors aren’t paid; they volunteer.

“They do this because they love it,” Myers said, although the experience certainly looks good while applying for colleges and she writes letters of recommendation.

“Five of our mentors have gone on to study music education in college, so it’s a good start, I think,” she said. “They were always headed in that direction and we gave them an opportunity to try something before they went away to school.”

Myers’ 15-year-old son, Nathan, was a mentee when the program first started and has now transitioned into a mentor. He began as a trumpet player and has since expanded into additional brass instruments and guitar.

“Honestly, it was the coolest thing going from a mentee to a mentor because you get to see a whole new perspective,” he said. “I love that everyone can be their own person in music.”

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Source: The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald, https://bit.ly/296ZwTc

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Information from: The Northwest Herald, https://www.nwherald.com


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