For a violinist, there is nothing more frustrating than being held back by the sound of an inadequate instrument.
As a young student, I played on a laughably inadequate violin, and I blamed myself when I couldn't find the right tone, could not make it speak in certain registers, or could not project. I realized the value of a better-sounding violin only later in life, when I finally found and bought one for myself. That violin continues to teach me and help me grow as a musician.
Because of this experience, as a teacher I'm even less patient when I discover a hard-working student laboring with an instrument that will never allow him or her to progress beyond a certain point. In fact, I feel a keen need to do something about it.
That is why I am happy to announce that on Monday, Violinist.com awarded violins to two students at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) The students are Ruka Nagashima, a senior, and Cayla Mendoza, a freshman.
LACHSA is a competitive, audition-based, public arts school that draws students from all over the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The music department's need for some better-quality instruments came to my attention through my son, Brian Niles, who is a senior at LACHSA in the Cinematic Arts department.
The Violinist.com Instrument Grants were based on merit and need, through an application process involving both an essay and audition, in consultation with LACHSA's string orchestra director Fung Ho. Nagashima, a senior, received a new, 2015 Hiroshi Kono violin as a permanent grant. Another Hiroshi Kono violin was awarded to LACHSA's instrumental music program, to loan on a yearly basis to a promising student in need of a better-sounding instrument. This year, the violin was awarded to Mendoza, a freshman.
I hope these violins allow these students a chance to start hearing the difference at an early age, to enjoy the new possibilities and to grow as musicians.
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