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Episode #142. Saturday March 4, 2023, 5:30 pm Eastern

Through The Staff (TTS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in the United States created in the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. TTS aims to connect 2nd-12th grade students with volunteer university musicians from around the United States. For centuries, music education has favored the wealthy and privileged in society. Economically disadvantaged and marginalized students typically attend schools with smaller budgets for music education and fewer resources. In response, TTS is devoted to finding, developing, and promoting alternative forms of access to music lessons, webinars, and masterclasses. In effect, TTS is a story of racial, geographic, financial, and gender equity in musical education. Through providing free virtual private lessons and essential music education materials, TTS strives to make music more accessible to any student who wants to learn it. In so doing, they are breaking down barriers in access to classical music to make musical journeys possible for any student, no matter their geographic location or financial situation. In this episode of Silver Lining for Learning, we will meet three Through The Staff leaders, Matthew Garcia (Founder and Board Trustee), Ashton Prince (Board Trustee), and Jessica Wu (Director of Programs). We will hear about the state of music education prior to TTS and how TTS has made a positive change in music education. The guests will also speculate on the scalability and sustainability of a virtual volunteer platform in the arts education space. Matthew Garcia’s November 2020 TED Talk on “How global virtual communities can help kids achieve their dreams” provides a wonderful overview of the mission and goals of TTS.

Through the Staff:

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How global virtual communities can help kids achieve their dreams


Matthew Garcia, hailed as an “Education Equalizer” by the TED Fellows, is a social innovator who has co-founded and sits on the board of two U.S. non-profits – Through the Staff and the Pre-College Research Institute. He recently delivered a World-Stage TED talk on the power of virtual nonprofits to bring educational resources to youth in underserved communities who would otherwise be unable to afford or access them. A graduating senior at Harvard, Matthew is a researcher and consultant at WolfBrown where he advises national non-profit clients in the arts and culture fields. His recent writing includes publishing a report for the National Endowment of the Arts on what factors predict student persistence in historically exclusive fields – like music and academic research. After graduation, Matthew will pursue his dedication to expanding equity, especially for communities of color, through a career in project management and social innovation consulting to address the most pressing social challenges of our time. He is Founder and Board Trustee of Through The Staff. He can be contacted at

Dominique Reilly is a flute performer, educator, and arts organizer based in Houston, Texas. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Flute Performance with a minor in Media Production from the University of Houston, and a Master’s degree in Flute Performance from The University of Texas. Her primary teachers include Marianne Gedigian, Jennifer Keeney, and Melissa Suhr. She has frequently performed with ensembles at her respective institutions and throughout the Austin and Houston areas. Dominique has maintained an active private studio of middle and high school students since 2016. Dominique joined Through the Staff in 2020 during a leave of absence from graduate school, when she discovered the organization through Instagram. She joined the founders as their first Director of Operations to build staying power in the organization’s systems, and in 2021 became Through the Staff’s first formal Executive Director. As a young professional, Dominique devotes her time and skills to empowering others and investing in an equitable future of art, media, and its audiences. She can be contacted at


Ashton Prince, a Houston based percussionist, is a young professional in the music community. He completed his undergraduate studies with Blake Wilkins and Alec Warren as a member of the percussion studio for the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Ashton’s professional endeavors span several channels of work. He works as a freelance percussionist throughout varying Houston performing ensembles and artists. A budding leader in the non-profit community, Ashton works at the DACAMERA Society of Texas (a jazz and chamber performance organization), serves as Executive Director for ConcertiaHTX (a new ensemble using music to empower social causes), and is a Board Director and Director of Communications, for Through the Staff. He can be contacted at

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Jessica Wu is a classically trained flutist that enjoys exploring a diverse range of repertoire. She enjoys collaborating with others in both the large ensemble setting and as a chamber musician. Passionate about pedagogy, she is constantly striving to better herself so that she can be the best teacher for her students. Jessica obtained a Performance Diploma from Boston University as well as a Master of Music Degree from the Longy School of Music and Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Houston, with a specialization in Music Education and Applied Flute. Her primary teachers have been Peggy Russell, Sergio Pallottelli, and Renée Krimsier. She is currently living in Houston, working as an elementary music teacher and teaching private flute lessons. Jessica started volunteering with Through The Staff in 2021 as an Education Team associate. In 2023, she now holds the position of Director of Program Operations, overseeing the management of educational opportunities and resources for all students and teachers. She can be contacted at