"Playing music is one of life's greatest joys, one we hope to share with as many children as possible."

-Zack Susel, Co-Founder


Our Program

Musical Mentors Collaborative is a NYC-based nonprofit that provides free, one-on-one music instruction to elementary school students who wouldn't otherwise have access to lessons. The program began in 2008 as a partnership between Columbia University and P.S. 145, a neighboring elementary school. It has grown significantly since, with three University chapters serving four elementary schools. Students in our program have an opportunity to share their hard work with their families and school principals during twice a year recitals, one typically held in the Winter and one in the Springtime.

Musical Mentors has also been able to secure concert tickets for elementary school students at no charge to performances at some of NYC’s most prestigious music performing spaces, such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Additionally, our program has held workshops for our young students with Grammy-nominated jazz artists, top-selling classical pianists and PhD candidates in music education. 

65 active student-instructor pairs


Our Students and Instructors

Students range from Kindergarten through 5th grade. In many instances, these students have had no music training, and have little to no in-school music education due to tight school budgets. The majority of our students take lessons on piano, violin and guitar. However, some have studied harmonica, singing and ukulele. 

Instructors are college-age with extensive music training. There’s an untapped amount of skill among college-age instructors who have studied music for years, but never had the opportunity to teach. Our instructors are undergraduate students at Columbia University, New York University, and the London School of Economics. In pairing college-age instructors with elementary school students, our program is unique in that we teach music, but also strive to create college-attending role models for our young elementary school students. Many of their parents never attended college. 

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3 chapters 


Schools we work with

Musical Mentors began in 2008 as a partnership between Columbia University and P.S. 145 in Harlem. Today, it's active at three universities and four elementary schools. In 2009, a small chapter at the London School of Economics was launched, followed by a chapter at New York University in 2011. 

Our elementary schools are chosen based on a number of variables, schools with a high percentage of students eligible for Federal Free Lunch (so called Title I schools) are natural candidates for where we see the greatest need.  We currently work with elementary schools in New York City and London.

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$250,000 in lessons given for FREE
since 2008

How to Help

We’re looking for the next generation of instructors, college students looking to give back to the communities around their university. Contact us for more information.