Spotlight on Patricia Ferido,
“Students would see me walking in the hallways and would stop to say “Hi!”. Those simple interactions really made me feel like I was making a tangible impact as a volunteer.”
Please tell us about yourself!
I grew up singing and loving music from the moment I could form words. My parents have a video of me at 3 years old singing a song I wrote called “The Letter 3.” I started learning to play piano with pennies on the backs of my hands to keep them straight at the age of 4. All throughout high school, I was a choir nerd, and most recently, I was in an a cappella group based in Los Angeles called A Cappella Soup. While getting my Master’s Degree in Public Policy Data Science and working as a data analyst, volunteer opportunities with ETM-LA were where I would go to be inspired musically and creatively. While I regret that I’m no longer playing or practicing as much music today, I love that I have ETM-LA as my connection to the music world.
How have you benefited from music? How has music changed your life?
Throughout my life, music has been a source of emotional support and an outlet for me to express myself. There have been so many times when I’ve had a hard day, and just playing the right song is like a magical switch that allows me to release all the tension. Not only that, but I’ve made some of the best personal connections through music. Nothing matches the feeling of unity that comes from singing in harmony, or playing in a band and having each part be beautiful on its own but even more so together. There are so many life skills and values that I’ve learned from growing up and playing music – discipline, hard work, patience, teamwork, and listening. Music has helped me understand that each person brings their own unique talents to the table and that we do best when we listen to and come alongside each other.
Why do you volunteer at Education Through Music-LA?
I was very fortunate to have grown up with music programs in all my schools, and it is rewarding to be a part of an organization that is committed to doing that in the city where I live. Not only that, but ETM-LA is a trustworthy organization which has proven its commitment with continual growth and success. I have volunteered with many organizations, and have yet to see a mission as clear and a model as sustainable as ETM-LA’s. Every member of the ETM-LA team I’ve met has a huge heart and the competency to match. I am constantly amazed at the outcomes in the schools they work with, not just in providing music, but improving quality of life and education for children in general.
Can you share any key memories while volunteering with ETM-LA?
I’ve met some of my closest friends through ETM-LA. It’s been a blast getting to know the other volunteers and bonding over how to decorate for the gala, gushing over the performances, and eventually becoming friends outside of ETM-LA. One of my favorite memories was volunteering weekly as a piano accompanist at a school, and starting to build rapport with some of the students. A few weeks into the semester some of the students would see me walking in the hallways and would stop to say hi. Those simple interactions really made me feel like I was making a tangible impact as a volunteer. Another favorite memory was volunteering as an accompanist at an all-school concert and seeing each grade perform in ascending order. It was like watching the kids grow up right before my eyes, and it was awesome to see the positive impact of music at every age.
Why do you think in-school music education for all children is important?
I know from personal experience, and also from the stories of students with ETM-LA, that students become more excited about school and more engaged in their learning when they have a creative outlet like music. Music is unique in that it engages students not just intellectually, but also creatively, emotionally, and socially. It challenges students to practice discipline, patience, and self-motivation. It boosts confidence as students come out of their shells and express themselves in a safe and nurturing environment. When a parent or grandparent lights up at their songs, students learn the joy that comes from using their talents to bring happiness to others. Music is an area where success doesn’t just mean getting an A, it is feeling accomplished and proud of yourself for learning a skill that you didn’t have before. Success isn’t just performing well on the test, it’s learning that making mistakes is part of the process and that continuing to practice is the way forward. These positive effects and values go far beyond the classroom, and I’m so grateful that such a great organization like ETM-LA works to give every child this opportunity.