MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Music has the power to bring people together and one local music program is uniting mentors and mentees in perfect harmony.
Kyle Tennyson follows his own beat.
“I got into a lot of confrontations with my school because I’m not exactly fond of the way that things are run inside the school,” Tennyson said.
“When I met Kyle he was always getting in trouble,” Sammy Gonzalez added.
Four years ago, Tennyson was on the verge of being kicked out of his school’s music program.
But that’s when Gonzalez stepped in.
“I vouched for Kyle and I worked with him,” Gonzalez said. “We started putting strong leaders and mentors and musicians in his life, and gave him performance opportunities. And he took everything that was given to him.”
Gonzalez is the president and chief executive officer of Young Musicians Unite.
The program started in 2013 at Young Men’s Preparatory Academy in Miami, giving underserved students a voice through music by providing free in-school and after school music education and mentoring.
“Music is an alternative and an option for them. It’s a home away from home,” Gonzalez said. “We give students the opportunity not only to learn an instrument, but to perform, to hang out with their friends, to be a part of something a little bit bigger than themselves.”
Tennyson has turned into a bit of a mentor himself, guiding younger students in their musical pursuits.
“What really made a difference for me is just seeing what music can do for people,” Tennyson said.
And the admiration between mentor and mentee is mutual.
“Kyle is such a great trombone player. He’s a great soloist. He’s a great performer. He has a great attitude,” said Gonzalez. “I love how he works with other students and inspires them. And takes the time to teach them parts and solo with them or push students.”
“When he was a teacher with us, he was really helpful,” Tennyson said of Gonzalez. “He tried to help us progress as musicians and as people. And as he probably said, I’ve changed a lot since then, since meeting him.”
Kyle is definitely one of the program’s success stories.
This fall, he’ll be attending Florida State University as one of the first ever recipients of a scholarship from the D’Addario Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting and promoting music instruction programs in communities of need.
“It just shows you what happens when you stand by a student, you believe in them,” Gonzalez said. “It just doesn’t get better than that.”
Young Musicians Unite is currently in 10 schools, serving more than 650 students, but it will expand this fall to 17 schools.
At a recent music festival, they raised more than $150,000 to guarantee free music instruction for roughly 1,200 kids.
For more information, visit https://youngmusiciansunite.org/.