Our Story: A letter of Appreciation to Dr. Mengert
Dear Dr. Mengert,
I am writing to you to thank you and to let you know of a ripple you started 8 years ago. My wife and I were lifted by a lecture you gave on March 9th, 2004 at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The lecture started us down a path of exploration and soul searching and altered the course of our lives, both personally and professionally.
The lecture was entitled "Music and the Mind." You were introduced and interacted with Brenda Pruitt who was the ASO assistant director of Education. At the time, my wife Kelly was 5 months pregnant and we were absorbing vast amounts of information about pregnancy and child development. Your lecture about how music affected the mind's of school children grabbed our attention and planted a seed. That seed grew slowly, but it started a curiosity and an awareness that spawned more investigation. Kelly and I had loved music since we were children and wanted to instill the love of music in our son Thomas. Your lecture about the benefits of music opened our minds and altered our paradigms. It was instrumental in our decision to say "YES" when we were invited to a Kindermusik class. We had always loved the beauty of music but were becoming increasingly aware of the power of music.
We continued at our jobs, me as a mechanical engineer and Kelly as an owner of a veterinary products business. On occasion an article would appear or a tv show would highlight the positive affect that music had on us humans. My wife and I loved to talk about these "pop ups" and they would distract us for a few days, but then it was on to the tasks of our jobs. In 2006 my wife sold her business and I had a personal awakening. I found it increasingly difficult to focus my attention on engineering and be a good dad. My work was so consuming that it occupied too much of my conscious thoughts. Something had to change. We now had some savings and decided to take some time off to "just be" as a family. We untied the anchor and let the tide take us where she wanted. We drifted in thought and location and eventually landed in Florida contemplating our professional directions. The quest for, "what are we going to do with the rest of our lives?" came to a clear conclusion by way of a dream. When I told Kelly that in the dream we were teaching music to children she responded with an enthusiastic "Let's do it!" We were enrolled in college 2 weeks later.
Our journey continued and we were presented with incredibly gifted guides. Kelly studied piano under Dr. Kadisha Onolbyeva and I studied classical guitar under Dr. Joseph Stallings. It was an exciting and renewing time of our life. Though we had both dabbled in our respective instruments this was a whole other level and it was exhilarating. All of our professors opened new chambers of awareness. Our world was blossoming.
After our first year in school, we began teaching neighborhood children and taught out of our house for free as we developed our methods. By word of mouth we grew and each year have struggled to keep up with demand. We are now taking a leap of faith, leasing a storefront and opening a music school. We will offer Kindermusik classes and give 1-hour private lessons - 1/2 hour of theory and 1/2 hour of instruction. Our goal is not to produce gifted musicians (though that may be a bi-product). Our goal is to excite children's brains and open their world with music.
Our business is aptly named "Minds on Music" and will open September of this year. We have been fortunate to have networked with musicians and teachers from our area colleges and schools and have had nothing but positive feedback. In our area there is a strong focus on sports (which we support) but not much at all on music. Playing sports has some undeniable benefits but we feel people are unaware of the unbelievable benefits of music on children. It is our mission to give our kids a better brain, educate our parents and provide a positive service of to our community. We have plans to open a non-profit arm of our business to get instruments and lessons to kids who might never otherwise be able to share their gift.
Often in life we don't get to see the results of our work. Dr. Mengert, it is important to us to let you know that the ripple you started in 2004 has grown and will continue to propagate through us to our students and community. Kelly and I have been blessed with great mentors along the way, be we are doubtful that any of this would have come about had we not attended your lecture. This is a letter of gratitude and appreciation for your work in this field. We thank you and would like to keep you up to date on "our" progress. We wish to add to this growing wave.
With warm regards,
Thomas and Kelly Koch
Minds on Music, LLC
Gulf Breeze FL
PS - your picture will hang in our lobby!