Sunday, December 02, 2001

Four examples of kids and music coming together

        Kids and music just naturally go together, parents and teachers say. For example:

[photo] Timmy and Tony Adams
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        Twins Timmy and Tony Adams, 15, have stutter problems. But like country singer Mel Tillis, when they sing, the stutter disappears.

        Timmy likes Metallica; Tony is into country.

        “It's the best thing in my life,” Timmy says of singing, beaming a big smile.

        The twins were diagnosed as developmentally handicapped when they were 2 years old, their mom Diane Adams says. This year, they are freshmen at Western Hills High, where their dream is to learn to play a musical instrument — when they can fit it into their schedules.

        The school has two music teachers, who lead two choirs, a marching band that just played in the Price Hill Thanksgiving Day parade, a concert band, a jazz band and general music.

        “Music helps them to calm down when they're speaking,” Mrs. Adams says of her boys. “Their speech has improved. I think it will help them in the long run.”

        No one in Daniel Orona's family has ever had any musical talent. But when band members came to his fourth-grade class in Norwood, Daniel, now 16, thought playing an instrument would be “cool.”

[photo] Daniel Orona
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        He started on clarinet. Then he learned French horn, melophone and guitar.

        Now he is drum major for Norwood High's marching band, plays in symphonic band, orchestra and sings in the show choir, Silhouettes. He also composes music. He likes Beethoven — and “emo” (emotional) rock.

        Music has taught him how to do several things at the same time, he says.

        “When you're playing music, you have to be able to read the music, count in your head, keep a tempo and just do, like, a million things at once. It helps me to adjust; now I can do five things at one time without even thinking about it,” Daniel says.

        “It gets you used to taking on more things.”


        Michael Pfaffroth, 14, struggled with his studies when he was in sixth grade. He was frustrated and disorganized, and home life was a struggle, too. That summer, he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.

        He wasn't interested in sports or band. But when a new strings program started in West Clermont schools, he discovered his passion for music.

        Today, the Glen Este High School freshman plays the double bass.

        “When it started, I was, like, wow, it's so cool,” he says. “Now I want to be in the Boston Pops, be really good. I have something to aspire to.”


[photo] Aisha Briggerman
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        The Briggerman family has a schedule for TV, homework — and practicing the piano. Aisha Briggerman, 11, started Suzuki piano lessons at Winton Montessori when she was 6.

        “It's fun, and I like to play the different kinds of pieces,” she says. What she likes best is graduating to the next book.

        She is a role model for her younger brother, Charles, 8, and sister, Michelle, 6, who also play the piano.

        Piano helps them concentrate and focus on a goal, then work toward that goal, says their mother, Yvette Briggerman. It also keeps kids off the street.

        “It has made a tremendous difference,” she says. “To see the joy and the excitement in their faces when they've played a piece that they've been working on for so long — they've accomplished something.”

- Janelle Gelfand


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