Coaching Music Makes a Difference for Chronically Ill Kids
Meet musician, engineer, and CoachArt volunteer Carlos Mosquera
CoachArt volunteers don’t have to be professionals in whatever art or athletic activity they coach — but some of them are. Carlos Mosquera, 35, of Woodland Hills is an audio engineer and musician who has toured with stars like Lady Gaga, and has coached CoachArt kids in guitar and coding. Hi kindly made time to tell us about his experience of volunteering and coaching music.
CoachArt: Carlos, I saw a video you posted on Instagram in which you’re singing a song by Leonel García and accompanying yourself on five instruments. And you’re wearing a CoachArt t-shirt — was that a coincidence?
Carlos: Totally on purpose. I wear my CoachArt shirt often so people will ask me about it and I can get them involved. Nobody told me about CoachArt; I found it because I googled good ways of helping communities using technology and art, and CoachArt popped up in the results. I’m trying to make it more visible.
Watch Carlos’ incredible performance of Leonel García’s “Bailar” on five instruments (plus vocals)!
CoachArt: You’ve been coaching Aiden, age 7, in guitar for about a year, online due to the pandemic. How long did it take before Aiden really started to connect with the instrument?
Carlos: Probably seven lessons. He has a good ear, so after I taught him about major chords, which are happy, and minor chords, which are sad, I could play different chords for him and he’d identify them correctly every time. I told him not every kid has this talent, and he understood that. He created a song from his imagination, and that’s how playing an instrument can become part of you. It’s hard to practice, but when you combine that with what’s special to you, it becomes your passion. We find other ways to make it fun. At one of our lessons he told me about his Halloween costume, and I suggested he wear it to a lesson, and now he often shows up wearing a costume.
CoachArt: When you were a child, did you get coaching to develop your musical skills?
Carlos: I’m from Venezuela, and starting at about age 8 I was part of an organization called El Sistema, which is basically music for kids from low-income families, as an alternative to being on the streets. They give you the instrument and teach you how to play. Gustavo Dudamel, the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was in El Sistema too, and started a similar organization called the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. I’m still involved with El Sistema and with YOLA too. But I hated it at the beginning. My mom said I had to do it. Now it’s my passion.
CoachArt: What motivates you to contribute your time and talent to coaching music to kids?
Carlos: For my entire family, helping others is a given. And for me it’s a way of having balance in my life. I work with major artists, but the industry can be very superficial. My career is my life, but I started to feel like I was just helping rich people get richer. So I decided to volunteer because I see music as a tool to help. I actually learned that from touring with Bon Iver as an audio engineer. They use their popularity to do useful things for charities. I was like yeah, this is what music is for! People think they don’t have time to volunteer, but people spend a lot of time on useless things… I know I did. You always have time. And I feel way better. Being involved with CoachArt has helped me a lot. I meet with Aiden, and I see he practiced during the week, because he wants to be better at the instrument, and while he’s focused on that he’s not worrying about his illness. He is priceless.
CoachArt: I understand you have also used your engineering talents to help people.
Carlos: I developed an app to help the visually impaired to navigate the outside world better. Speakers are placed in various locations and they send impulses to the person’s cell phone, and the cell phone provides the person with location information that’s more accurate than tools that depend on satellite-based services. The United Nations gave me an award for that and are going to help me develop the idea. I plan to start it here in LA. The point is, I’m trying to use my skills and my time for things that are actually useful.
CoachArt: We appreciate that you’re part of the CoachArt community, Carlos. Thank you!
Our gratitude to Carlos for sharing his story and coaching music to CoachArt kids!
MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY CHILDHOOD CHRONIC ILLNESS
Since 2001, CoachArt has matched volunteer coaches with kids and teens impacted by chronic illness for one-on-one or group lessons in arts and athletics. Our vision is that one day every family impacted by childhood chronic illness will be connected to a community of support and an opportunity to learn and grow together.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CoachArt is providing virtual (online) lessons for all group activities and 1-1 lessons. Learn more about CoachArt’s virtual programming for kids and teens impacted by chronic illness.
CoachArt offers free art and athletic lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings between the ages of 5-18 in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, and newly in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, New York City, and Portland. If your child has been diagnosed with a chronic condition, we invite you to fill out a student eligibility form to learn if CoachArt is right for your child.
WAYS TO HELP
Do you have an artistic or athletic skill you’d like to share virtually with a child impacted by chronic illness? Become a CoachArt Volunteer.
Learn how you can get involved with CoachArt to help create a better world for kids impacted by chronic illness.