As a young Black man growing up in Brockton, Massachusetts, Greg Fernandes faced an identity crisis. From fourth to eighth grade, he had attended private schools, and as a classically trained violinist, he was a star. But when he transferred to Brockton’s public high school, the students treated him differently.
“I was literally bullied and physically harmed just because I was a classically trained violinist,” he said. “It wasn’t cool to be smart. It wasn’t cool to play the violin.”
In his book, Excuse Limit Zero, Fernandes tells the story of this difficult transition and how it sent him spiraling, selling drugs by day and practicing violin by night. He shares this story of how he turned his life around. Now a mentor and high school choir director, he hopes he can inspire others to own their mistakes, move past regret, and find a brighter future.
Excuse Limit Zero launched one year ago, in March 2020.
Since publication, the book has helped him access new ways to collaborate with others, so he can make a difference. The result: Fernandes soon will open the doors to the Rose Conservatory.
Driven by his own experience with and passion for music, Fernandes seeks to give students a chance to explore art and music in a safe space.
“I really feel that the main goal of my curriculum is to create a culture of habit and persistence and perseverance. And I think that will help motivate and nurture students to become dedicated scholars, compassionate leaders, and really skilled musicians.”
“We support each of our children not only academically but musically, socially, and emotionally,” Fernandes said. “I believe in respecting every child and providing all children with opportunities to ultimately contribute back to our community.”
Fernandes credits his late mother, Rosanna, as his main source of inspiration (and the namesake of Rose Conservatory). She was a music teacher for thirty years at the Boston Latin School. She groomed Greg to be the musician and music educator that he is today. “I feel that this was always my mother’s dream for me.”
“When students see a person who represents their background in positions that are very well respected, it really does give them hope for a better future.”
Rose Conservatory plans to open their doors by summer 2021.
Though busy preparing to open the Conservatory, Greg said he may one day write a second book. Whatever the future has in store, you can bet that this is just the beginning for Greg Fernandes.
To learn more about Greg and his book writing journey, check out this video.