According to 11-year-old Lily Hefford, leadership is all about taking charge and getting involved to help others. This is at the heart of who Lily is, and one of the reasons her music teacher chose to nominate her for the 2020 NUFSICISUM Youth Leadership Award

Lily’s musical education began in kindergarten, and according to her music teacher, she showed an interest in music right from the start. In Grade 2, she began playing the violin and was so dedicated to learning and practicing her instrument that she was quickly promoted to her small Newfoundland and Labrador school’s senior violin group. She later began private violin lessons with a teacher in her community, and also learned the tenor saxophone through her school’s band program. 

As Lily got older, her dedication to music remained strong, and she continued to lead by example and take initiative to help her peers. She volunteered to mentor younger violin students at lunch and after school, offered to tune all the violins for both the junior and senior groups, helped organize papers and resources for both groups, and even helped to keep the music room tidy.

Serving as a violin mentor is one of the ways Lily distinguished herself as a leader in her school’s music program. For two years, Lily spent time at lunch and after school helping younger students learn notes and work on their violin technique. Her teacher told us that she was always positive and encouraging, and even gave out stickers to motivate students and celebrate their achievements. 

Lily told us that the opportunity to help teach the younger students is one of the things she enjoys most about her school’s music program, but above all, it’s the connections made with others that she loves most about being involved in music. “My favourite thing is the friendship and bonding you get from playing music,” she said. “It’s nice to sit down with your friends and learn new music.” 

The friendships and the joy that music brings are also reasons why Lily feels music education is so important for young people. “It is important to have music at school because it helps the kids to express themselves,” she said, adding that music programs are great places to meet new people and have fun. 

When she isn’t rehearsing with the many school ensembles she’s involved with, mentoring younger students, or practicing for her private lessons, Lily can be found performing in  community events, like Song and Stage for the Young and Brave, and hanging out in the music room with friends, playing her violin just for fun. She also finds time for some non-music hobbies and activities, like Guides, reading, drawing, camping, and bird watching, and may use some of her NUFSICISUM prize money to buy some books about birds. 

With so many accomplishments under her belt already, we wondered what she would set her sights on next. Her current musical goals are to increase the number of instruments she can play, and learn piano and guitar. 

We also wondered, as someone with considerable leadership experience, what advice she would give to other students who might be interested in taking on a leadership role. “I would tell people to get involved and go for it,” she said. “You will be rewarded greatly.”