Catching Up with NEXTGen Alumnus, Penelope!

Since 2021, Midori & Friends has had the honor of working with exceptionally talented and ambitious teenagers in New York City through the NEXTGen Musician program. NEXTGen Musician is not just a music program; it’s a transformative youth leadership initiative. Through artistry, leadership, and advocacy training, teens engage with experienced professionals in music, finance, tech, law, and government, unlocking their full potential for success in many contexts. Midori & Friends places great importance on staying connected with its alumni community as they embark on new educational journeys. Gaining insights into the program’s impact on their transition to a new life chapter is a central focus of our ongoing engagement. Recently, we had the opportunity to discuss this with alumnus Penelope via Zoom after her first semester at the Peabody Institute.

Pre-College Interview with Penelope

In August 2023, Midori & Friends had a chat with Penelope to talk about how the NEXTGen Musician program impacted her and influenced her expectations, goals, and intentions for her first semester at Peabody. She expressed being so excited about focusing on her instrument, guitar, instead of being overwhelmed by general education classes like she has been for her entire life. “I’m really excited to be able to, obviously still focus on academics, but mainly spend my time with music,” she said excitedly. She also expressed the desire to join student government at Peabody so she could advocate for the specific needs of her fellow students in her new community, “It’s going to be a very tiny and very intimate community [at Peabody], and I’m really excited to advocate for whatever needs are necessary at the time.” Click the video below to see highlights from that conversation.

NEXTGen Alumni Check-In: Penelope

Six months have passed since Midori & Friends’ last check-in with Penelope regarding her journey at Peabody. It was enlightening to learn how her expectations were met with surprises, she encountered challenges in pursuit of her goals which she faced with grace, and her self-advocacy skills proved invaluable. “A big part of what I’ve realized is, going into music, it’s almost not enough to just know music. You have to know a bunch of other things. You have to know how to advocate for yourself and for anything. You have to know how to communicate,” Penelope said in a follow-up interview with Midori & Friends in January, 2024. Click the video below to see her reflect on how her growth since August, 2023, and how being a part of the NEXTGen Musician program left her equipped to face the challenges at the start of her journey!

Keep Up with the NEXTGen Musicians

The NEXTGen Musician program proves that music education not only equips students with the skills needed to better play their instruments, but also provides the tools they need to advocate for themselves in other contexts. Midori & Friends is thrilled to welcome the new NEXTGen Musician 2024 Cohort later today. Keep up with all of Midori & Friends NEXTGen alumni updates by clicking the image below and by following @nextgen_musician on Instagram.