NYer Of The Week: Music Woman Teaches Tunes To Youngsters

The most recent New Yorker of the Week helps students chase their musical dreams for free. NY1's Jessica Abo filed the following report.

Caroline Stoessinger started playing piano when she was five years old.

"By the time I was nine I was teaching," says Stoessinger. "I had my first official job as the organist in the local funeral home."

Today she's a music professor at John Jay College, a published author and a documentary filmmaker. But her favorite title is founder of The Mozart Academy, a non-profit she's been running as a volunteer for 11 years.

"The Mozart Academy is a preparatory school for beginners through high school," says Stoessinger. "We teach classical violin, cello, piano, viola, music history theory and appreciation and we teach immigrant children."

Since she started the Mozart Academy, more than 200 children have enrolled in the free program. The students take private and group lessons every week, attend concerts and operas and they even perform in their own recitals.

The students have performed around New York City at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the United Nations. Vivian Deng has been in the academy since it started and she says thanks to Caroline, she's planning on pursuing music this fall at Wesleyan College.

"She is like another mother," says Deng. "She's always there for me. She's created so many opportunities for me and it's just unimaginable what she's done for me and I'm really appreciative."

Dulcinee Tuza, 11, from Rwanda, says Caroline has also changed her life.

"It makes me feel different than other people in my country because we don't have many of these experiences in a lifetime," says Tuza. "This is the highlight of my life basically."

"I really think that she helps to make them better citizens with her generosity," says Irene Ong, a parent of one of the students. "I think that from this group you'll be able to see a couple of new leaders in the future."

For teaching her students the key skills they need to pursue their musical dreams, Caroline Stoessinger is our New Yorker of the Week.

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