The Friends of Music (FOM) at George Mason University are encouraging you to adopt. “What?” you might exclaim. “All my kids are grown up. I don’t want another kid running around the house. It’s so quiet and tidy now.”
Two years ago, my husband Evans and I were invited to lunch by Dr. Linda Apple Monson, an extraordinary pianist who lives in Fairfax Station and teaches at Mason. Also at the luncheon were two other powerfully persuasive people, Alice Heyer, who founded the FOM in 2005, and Brian Marcus, an Associate Dean of Development.
We were asked to become “guinea pigs,” to be the first members of the Adopt a Young Artist (AYA) program. Oh, my, I thought, as visions of giving up our guest room flashed through my mind. These worries were needless, however.
Evans and I provide financial support (i.e. scholarship funds) to a gifted student, Dominick Izzo, and Dominick has become our friend. He invites us to concerts, and we invite him for lunch. We’ve shown him the town of Clifton and all its charms. He’s helped us celebrate Greek Easter with our extended family, and he’s given our musical granddaughter advice on classes and colleges. We’ve taken him to the airport, and he has taken care of our house, horses and dogs when we’ve gone traveling.
Our relationship with Dominick, a pianist, singer and aspiring conductor, is exactly what Alice Heyer described, “...a special gift that keeps on giving to both the FOM adopter and the adopted student.” We have learned about the life of a musician from Dominick, and he in turn has learned about our community and life.
After our success, two other Fairfax Station families joined the AYA group. Sally and Jim Bennett adopted Buddy Deshler. A trumpet player, Buddy appreciates the fact that the Bennetts “want to know me. They’re interested in what I’m doing, and they want to help.”
Anne Sharp, a resident of Twelve Oaks, is a self-described “Robinson band mom.” She met Alice Heyer a few years ago when she began taking piano lessons from her. “Because I was a friend of Alice,” she said, “I became a Friend of Music.” Her next step was to Adopt a Young Artist. She and husband Barry have taken under their wing and into their hearts soprano Ayana Reed.
Heyer and Sharp now co-chair the Scholarship Committee. With their collaboration, the AYA program has flourished.
On Aug. 31, Alice and Fred Heyer hosted a breakfast for AYA members. Leading a presentation about expectations for students and sponsors, Linda Apple Monson recognized the young musicians as the teachers of the future whose own students will carry music into the 22nd Century. She concluded aptly, “We are so proud of what you have done and what you will accomplish.”
The Adopt a Young Artist Program succeeds because of the enthusiasm and dedication of each member. When we attend performances, we focus on our individual students. We can help with their challenges and feel joy in their achievements.
What do the students gain from the experience? In an essay, one young musician wrote, “...the personal support the AYA student receives sets this scholarship apart from all others.”
If this comment inspires you, School of Music students are waiting to meet you and to become your “adopted” artist.