and brought together by music. Thank you Weilynn for sharing your family’s story with us!
DID EITHER YOU OR KENNETH PLAY AN INSTRUMENT GROWING UP?
I played the piano growing up but hated it. I was not fond of the grueling daily practice, and my mom watched me like a hawk during lessons. Quitting the piano is one of my greatest regrets, though. But you know what they say, mother knows best. In this case and with many others, she was right on the money.
Kenneth appreciates music of all genres, from classical to jazz to opera. He studied composers worldwide, analyzing the dimension of each piece and how different conductors interpret them. Later in his young adulthood, he took piano lessons and now has an extensive music collection.
WHOSE IDEA WAS IT FOR RUSSELL AND COLETTE TO BEGIN TAKING MUSIC CLASSES?
It’s not too far from the truth that some parents live vicariously through their kids, so for Kenneth and I, it was an easy decision to send Russell for piano lessons. Then, one afternoon he saw Yo-Yo Ma’s “Dvořák in Prague” concert on TV and asked to take up cello lessons as well. As for Colette, she wanted to do everything her older brother did, so it didn’t take too much nudging before she was playing the piano and cello and later joined SDYS.
WHY DID YOU ULTIMATELY SELECT SDYS FOR THEM TO CONTINUE THEIR TRAINING?
There were a few youth orchestras around San Diego at the time, which was quite a surprise to me. But SDYS was the most organized when I called and inquired around. The staff invited us to drop by for a rehearsal and explained the audition process and schedule to us. And when I saw what they were accomplishing, I was sold. I anticipated nothing short of the clinking of pots and pans from these young children as my expectations weren’t high. Instead, they created music; it was a surreal experience!
WHAT WAS EACH OF YOUR CHILDREN’S FAVORITE PART OF BEING IN SDYS?
To this date, they still talk about how the individual instruments can morph together and deliver sounds so pleasing to the mind and soul. Being a part of an ensemble of dedicated young musicians, captivated by the musical experience was such an adrenaline rush for both of them, especially when performing in front of an audience. They miss playing in an orchestra and being with their friends.
AS PARENTS, WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU AND KENNETH FEEL THAT RUSSELL AND COLETTE GOT OUT OF BEING IN SDYS?
Dedication. Perseverance. Teamwork. The relentlessness in perfecting the work in front of them; these are all things that quickly came to mind. My husband and I hope Russell and Colette will continue to embrace these qualities throughout their lives.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHILDREN DOING NOW?
Russell is currently a fourth-year student at UCSD, majoring in psychology and minoring in music. He enjoys playing in his chamber orchestra whenever possible and spends his time reading and coaching Speech and Debate.
Colette is a sophomore at UCLA, also majoring in psychology. She dedicates a lot of her time to community service and recently discovered her passion for gardening. When possible, she enjoys tickling the keys on the piano and is learning to play the guitar.
HOW HAS MUSICAL TRAINING IMPACTED THEIR CURRENT SUCCESSES?
Playing in an orchestra has taught them the importance of being part of something bigger than themselves. They learned to work with others, sometimes taking the lead and sometimes being the follower. They were responsible for learning their parts, for attending rehearsals. The experience has enhanced their work ethic as much as the music has provided them enjoyment.
AS A BOARD MEMBER, WHAT ASPECT OF YOUR STORY IS THE ONE YOU HOPE EVERY SDYS FAMILY GETS TO EXPERIENCE?
They were able to pursue a passion and, through it, gained lessons in leadership, responsibility, and dedication. But beyond that, the SDYS experience opened up doors for my children to bond and communicate with people that come from different backgrounds – they may not have the same life views, but they can come together over music, a common language, and learn to appreciate each other. These values have become seamlessly integrated into their lives and will continue to have a positive impact no matter what avenues they pursue.