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Members of The Cleveland Orchestra play it forward for budding musicians

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Posted at 4:48 PM, Mar 19, 2021

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Playing ​it forward.

Members of one of the best orchestras in the world​ are taking time to help the next generation of musicians sharpen their skills.

Kathleen Collins is one of them.

You can call her a music mentor.

“I can only imagine how wonderful that would have been if I had that as a young child,” said Collins.

The violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra is sharing her love of the instrument with Darnell McMullen II.

“I’ve been working with Darnell for about four years now. He’s super motivated. Lots of talent,” said Collins.

McMullen is a senior at the Cleveland School for the Arts.

“When I’m on the stage and I’m playing, I don’t really think about anything else,” said McMullen.

McMullen said he wasn't very sure about his abilities before​ connecting with Collins.

“I didn’t have that type of confidence back then, and now I definitely do. It’s just a level of progression I got with Miss Kathy that I’m really grateful for,” said McMullen.

That boost he needed to be a better musician is now something McMullen is sharing with students at Mound Elementary in Slavic Village.

“Teaching someone — that’s an entirely different thing,” said McMullen.

The teen works with budding musicians in the third and fourth grade, but he said it almost didn't happen.

McMullen was about ready to put down his violin for good.

“Then I started working with the kids and I started to love music again,” said McMullen.

Lessons learned from Collins, like patience, instilled in those coming up behind him.

“So, we’ve got this great sort of stacking of mentorship here,” said Collins.

The young musician said he is motivated by the escape music provides.

“A hobby that makes them comfortable and something they can be proud of, especially with the areas they live in and the stuff they go through,” said McMullen.

For Collins, the full circle moment of the student becoming the teacher is truly the greatest reward.

“Being able to experience that thrill of being on stage and hearing this amazing sound around me, but I’m so even so much happier when I can see that start to happen for someone else,” said Collins.