ArtSmart mentor Maria Lindsey explains how for a shy student, one-to-one mentorship can be a game changer.

Today I’d like to highlight one of my wonderful students. Her name is Fatoumata. Fatoumata is in eighth grade at Harlem Village Academy and has really enjoyed being in ArtSmart this past year. She has a twin sister who is also in ArtSmart! She says one of her first memories of music was learning songs in their kindergarten music class and singing them around the house and for their Mom. Fatoumata says this was the beginning of her love for music and she always wanted to be involved with music after this point.

Aminata, her twin sister, was initially the person that motivated her to sign up for the ArtSmart auditions. She didn’t necessarily think she wanted to be involved with the program and was nervous about what it would be like, but after the auditions and meeting Michael Fabiano and singing for him, she became really excited and was very happy that she made it into the program!

Fatoumata says that the best part of being in ArtSmart is that she can get better at singing without peer pressure since ArtSmart provides one-to-one lessons. At ArtSmart she’s able to just be herself, take risks and enjoy singing. This meant a lot to me as her mentor because I truly strive to create an environment where my students feel safe to learn and try new things so that they can build their confidence in a trusted and supported way.

When asked what are three things she’s excited that she’s learned this year, she says learning how to breathe better, learning how to sing in another language and learning complicated songs that she never thought she would be able to learn. 

When I asked Fatoumata what she’s learned in ArtSmart that doesn’t have anything to do with singing, she paused for a second and then very quickly responded— “How to be positive”. She explained that she’s normally very hard on herself and doesn’t look at the positive side to most situations. But since she’s been involved with ArtSmart this year she has learned to feel better about herself — she says this is the biggest reason she looks forward to her lessons every week.

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By Maria Lindsey  |  Published on 08/24/2020