Zoe Ballou

As a larger organization, United Sound is a national program with over 12,000 participants that aims to deconstruct barriers and foster social change and acceptance through music. It allows for students with disabilities to have the same access to learning and playing music as their peers, and to experience the same joy that many of us do when creating music with other people.

While United Sound’s goal is to make access to instrumental music education both accessible and equitable, I have learned that it is infinitely more than that. We work with a group of students once a week, with the new musicians performing with the entire Concert Band at the end of the year. Student musicians are paired with a small group of student mentors, and I have found that this connection is so much more than a mentor-student relationship. Much of United Sound is focused on making new friends, meeting new people, and cultivating a space where you can feel safe and have fun- whilst picking up songs on a piano or squeaking out notes on a clarinet. As someone who aims to pursue a career in music, United Sound has taught me much more than I ever expected. The amount you learn, not just as a student, but as a mentor, is tremendous. Beyond that, going into United Sound for the first time last year, I never anticipated finding someone else’s success so rewarding.

As a mentor, I celebrate the student’s successes just as much as they do, and sometimes more. I have discovered that this program extends far beyond music and that whether it means waving hello in the hallway or playing a group game, United Sound helps to build lasting, genuine friendships.

If you’re interested in joining United Sound or want to learn more/have a question, please feel free to reach out to me at zoebal920@stu.frsu38.org