I learned that I can make an impact on kids’ lives regarding the arts, and realized how passionate I am about helping others. I would definitely do this again.
Having lived with a nonverbal learning disorder since age 4, now 17 year-old violist Alexia DelGiudice, (Show 245) a From the Top Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist) fully understands the struggles of those with learning disabilities. She has found music to be a powerful tool for expressing herself and making connections. Wanting to share this inspiration with others, Alexia visited with students involved in the Oliver Ames High School “Best Buddies” chapter – part of the nonprofit organization dedicated to support students with intellectual and developmental disabilities worldwide. She developed a three-part interactive program, tying together musical demonstrations with artistic expression.
She started with a brief concert in the school’s auditorium, asking the students to imagine a story for each piece she performed. Alexia then welcomed several of the students to join her onstage and try out a violin she had brought. They all traveled to the Art Room next, where Alexia asked everyone to make a drawing that represented their favorite piece from her performance. She found the overall experience to be a powerful way for connecting with kids who normally struggle to express themselves. She share her goals below:
I wanted these kids with disabilities to know that they are capable of doing whatever they want in life. The challenge does not need to prevent their dreams and talents from coming forward. My goal was to open up their minds and to let them express their emotions through music and art.
We asked Alexia to share more about her experience with the Best Buddies program…
FTT: Tell us more on what inspired you to connect with these students…
Alexia: Due to the fact that I have a nonverbal learning disability, I feel I can share and connect with other students who are facing the same challenges. Music and viola have allowed me to express myself and see the world around me as an open book, not as a world where my disability rules my life.
Passion is what drives me and helps me to achieve any goal I set for myself. My consistent improvement and abilities are not blocked by the challenges I feel at school. I am competing only with myself as a violist when I practice. The pressure I face at school does not exist.
FTT: What were some memorable moments?
Alexia: When I was letting the kids try a violin, this one kid named Andrew was so excited about it that he ran up onto the stage and tried to grab the violin! Even though he was being a little rough, I knew how to calm him down. He loved the sound and didn’t want to stop playing it. The second person to try the violin was a tiny girl named Erin. When she stepped onto the stage, she started stretching like she was about to run a race. It was so cute! She had so much fun trying the violin that whenever she made a bad sound, she crinkled her nose. It is moments like these that I will never forget!
FTT: What do you believe the students took away from your visit?
Alexia: I believe that the kids really enjoyed this experience! Not only did they get to hear classical music, but the art portion and hands-on segment also showed them how amazing music can be! I feel that now, after experiencing all of this, they might start to dabble in the arts.
FTT: What do you think it means to be an arts leader?
Alexia: Being an arts leader means helping others realize the power of music and excel in the arts. I hope to show everyone that they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to!