As Elizabeth Moulthrop practiced her violin in crowded classrooms as a junior at the Boyer College of Music and Dance, she had larger plans brewing than what assignments she had for homework.
Moulthrop, who studied music education during her time at Temple, said she always had a passion for music and a love for teaching it – specifically, the violin. It was after an earthquake that hit Pisco, Peru in 2007 that she created the idea for her nonprofit, Notes for Change.
In July 2008, 10 months after the disaster hit Pisco, Moulthrop and her church members went there to help with the reconstruction process.
“Even after almost a year, it was still really bad down there,” Moulthrop said. “It was really damaged and still impossible to do a lot.”
After the first visit, Moulthrop continued returning to Pisco to stay with friends that lived there to help with more of the construction.
“I kept going back because it is a great place in need,” Moulthrop said.
After her third time returning to the country, she decided to take her ability to help a step further.
“After seeing the destruction, making new friends [and] getting to know the country, I noticed how much of a cultural city it is and its music potential,” Moulthrop said. “I wanted to make a change.”
In 2011, she officially started Notes for Change, a nonprofit working to promote music education in Peru. With the help of the organization, she started the Pisco Music Program, a month-long festival available to Peruvian children free of charge. It’s there, with the help of other U.S. teachers, that Moulthrop aims to expose children to music and culture they might not experience otherwise.
Going on three consecutive years, students from both Temple and Montclair State University, where she’s pursuing a graduate degree, participate in the program.
“Each year we try to recruit as many kids as possible for free music lessons in Pisco, since the city is still destroyed and many of the kids do not have access to social resources,” Moulthrop said.
Norma Prescott, a Notes for Change board member, has known Moulthrop for 10 years and said she has noticed the work Moulthrop has done the last few years, especially with the Peruvian children.
“[Mouthrop] is a phenomenal person and is passionate about teaching music,” Prescott said. “She brings people to help teach music and at the end they have a concert. The best part is seeing the joy of the children with the pride their parents have watching them play the instruments and singing.”
Aside from Notes for Change, Mouthrop is working on a music project called the “Patterson Music Project” to help families afford afterschool music programs with the New Jersey Youth Symphony.
Fifty students participate for six hours a week during the school year. Mouthrop plans to keep those students and expand the program this summer.
The New Jersey Youth Symphony was also sponsored by another organization Moulthrop is part of – the Northern Jersey Youth Orchestra. The organization has helped her with a recent fundraiser, where it raised money to help sponsor her work abroad.
“I appreciate all of the help I have had,” Moulthrop said. “I like to allow people to explore and give a chance to do music.”
Prescott said she has noticed the changes Moulthrop brings to students’ lives through music, as she started her own program while still participating in other musical programs.
“The last six years with [Prescott] has been life-changing and a genesis for Notes for Change,” Moulthrop said.
Moulthrop said she wishes to expand her musical education beyond Peru and New Jersey.
“In the future, I plan and hope to run more projects in the U.S that will teach students more intense musical education,” Moulthrop said.
Karlina Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.