Pacific Music Institute recruits world-class artists and instructors from all over the world to teach at our summer camps. Why? Because we believe knowledgeable and experienced mentors are essential in fostering the next generation of musicians (and humans)! In fact, many of our faculty members decided to become music educators because they had mentors who were monumental figures in their own music journey.

To highlight our artist faculty who now inspire many young musicians, we asked them why it’s important to have great mentors and role models. Here’s what they had to say!

They inspire you to inspire others

“I may be a role model now but tomorrow’s role models are the students that I’m teaching today.” — Iggy Jang, Solo & String Quartet Program Director. 

A huge part of music is passing on knowledge and keeping traditions alive. The right mentors or role models will often be the reason you want to be an inspiration to other musicians. As our Artistic Director Joseph Stepec points out, “we learn the intricacies of [music] through someone else who’s done it.” 

One way that our summer music camp fosters mentorship is through our partnership with the National Orchestral Institute + Festival (NOI+F), which recruits the finest young orchestra performers nationwide. Richard Scerbo, Director of the NOI+F, states, “It’s really important for students to have great mentors because all of us in our journey through life are dependent on the success and the contributions of those people that came before us.” NOI+F is our partner in creating the Orchestral Learning Alliance, nicknamed OLA, a program where NOI+F’s teaching fellows and faculty join our faculty to provide PMI students with access to more mentors. This program is especially unique as it creates what Richard calls a “full circle of mentorship — from young students here at PMI to NOI students here as teaching fellows.” 

OLA Teaching Fellows are recent graduates who are just starting out as professional musicians. The program gives these passionate young musicians who come from all over the country an opportunity to share their knowledge with middle and high school students from Hawaiʻi and beyond. Having the teaching fellows join our faculty allows our students to benefit from a well-rounded music education led by diverse instructors. They’ll learn from both older faculty members equipped with a lifetime of experience and younger faculty members like the teaching fellows who have a better understanding of pursuing music in recent years!

“I have always been passionate about music and I believe that music has the power to transform people and to move their hearts, and I also wanted to teach that and pass that along to the students. I want to bring them a positive, relatable experience.”

Daniel Guevara, who is a violinist, violist, and 2023 OLA Teaching Fellow, wants to inspire future musicians with his passion.

They help expand your horizons.

“It’s really important to have good role models and mentors just to have the exposure, see what’s possible, expand your perspective of what’s out there, and guide you and point you in the right directions,” says 2023 OLA Teaching Fellow Yani Quemado. Many of our faculty members have seized unexpected opportunities: our viola instructor Alex Peña worked with and conducted Yo-Yo Ma while our 2023 ‘Ukulele Workshop Director Kalaʻe Camarillo collaborated with the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra and local composer Michael-Thomas Foumai on a performance of two of his original works. By studying under incredible musicians like this, our students can be inspired by their journeys and see different paths they could take.

Finding mentors and role models with similar backgrounds can also be a strong source of encouragement. Originally from Honolulu, our oboe instructor Alex Hayashi is an accomplished oboist and a testament to what local musicians can achieve, “I think it is very important for students to have these mentors and role models, especially here in Hawaiʻi, because it sets an example of the things they can accomplish and achieve in the future showing that there are plenty of opportunities, both in and outside of music, whether or not they pursue music as a career.” 

They support YOUR music journey.

Having a great mentor means someone is looking out for you! Since they get the opportunity to work with students one-on-one and in small group settings, our instructors can develop strong relationships with their mentees. Far from just coaching technique, a great music teacher also guides students on their personal journeys and nurtures their love of music and learning.

2023 PMI flute instructor Ellie Rose believes good mentors and role models are necessary to ensure that students don’t experience burn out or stop playing, which she’s seen happen to many of her peers. “Something that is really important to me in my teaching is creating a healthy approach to music for my students; really focusing on the mental health aspect,” she explains. Ms. Rose likes to provide a model for students to continue to find joy in whatever aspect they take their music. “Whether it’s a hobby, or they want to perform, or teach and have side gigs, it’s mostly about them creating fulfillment in their own life and in their own music and less about the comparison and perfectionism,” she says. Everybody’s music journey is different; a good mentor will be supportive of the path you decide to take! 

Cello instructor Brady Anderson also saw the impact that a teacher can make firsthand, and itʻs what inspired him to teach. Mr. Anderson shared that his identical twin brother never enjoyed playing the violin, which he attributes to the teacher at the time, so he chose to pursue music education to help make sure his future students never lose their love for their instruments.

PMI is proof that having a teacher who recognizes your abilities can push you to reach greater heights! For instance, one student from our Middle School All-State Band says PMI made it possible for her to see that she was a better musician than she originally thought because her band teacher had personally chosen her to participate in the program. Sometimes, you just need someone with more experience to help you uncover your true potential.

They teach you about more than just music!

“I believe having the right mentor, teacher guides them not only musically but in life… I was blessed with meeting the right teachers and mentors at the right time.” — Khullip Jeung, PMI violin clinician.

A good mentor will not only enrich your music journey but your life! Thoughtful mentors understand the impact music education can have on their mentee’s personal development and provide them with the knowledge, skills, and lessons necessary for them to become contributing members of their community. 

Our violin clinicians Khullip Jeung and Clara Kim attribute more than their musical abilities to having capable mentors. Clara credits her past mentors for helping her grow as a musician and in life as well, allowing her to develop her personal values. Now that she’s a music educator, Clara wants to do the same for her students, “I really try to impart a lot of things to my students through how we develop the skills and the technique for the instrument, how we listen actively in making the sounds, but also life skills like communication, creativity, and imagination, and building community with one another.”

Like Clara, many of our faculty members have non-music related lessons to teach their students: Kalaʻe emphasizes punctuality, Alex encourages students to plan ahead, and Daniel reminds students to not be afraid of making mistakes! Our faculty members are brimming with wisdom to share with their students, wisdom that can help create a generation of excellent musicians who are also wonderful people!

Ready to meet these amazing mentors?

Finding great mentors and role models helps set you up for success in your music journey. If you’ve been looking for an experienced figure who can support you as you hone your craft and reach for your goals, PMI is the place for you! Sign up now to be notified about our upcoming summer camp!