Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Joy of Developing One’s Talent

If one has a real passion for a talent or skill, there is no way of preventing him/her from utilizing it.  I have taught piano to many disadvantaged youth and one trait I observed was a determination to learn and to play the songs which I taught them with accuracy.

There are countless numbers of stories in history of individuals who pursued a passion and accomplished much just by doing so.  James Ford of Miami, Florida is one such individual who was able to develop his talent, even in the face of discrimination against him.  However, his mother desired to see him to pursue his dream and was able to enroll him at The Miami Fine Arts Conservatory in 1951.  She especially wanted to enroll her son because he was composing music at home. 

They were able to find acceptance and encouragement from Ruth Greenfield, the founder of the Miami Fine Arts Conservatory, the first to admit students of all races during a time of segregation in the U.S.  James Ford was her first black student.  James Ford became a concert pianist and still plays today at the age of seventy-seven.  

Another black pianist who was denied piano instruction was Margaret Bonds, (1913-1972), who composed her first piece of music at the age of five.  She later studied at the Julliard School of music and with two private instructors.  A third refused to give her private lessons, stating that she needed further study.

After graduating with a master's degree in music, she played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Women’s Symphony Orchestra.  She then formed her own Margaret Bonds Chamber Society, which performed the music of black classical composers.  Margaret Bonds was well known for setting the woks of Langston Hughes to music.  Later in life, she became very active in theaters in New York and with the works which she dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr.

 These stories should be an inspiration to anyone who is trying to pursue a career in music or is merely trying to develop a talent and passion for the piano or any other instrument.   For this reason, the RI Kids Create Music School is planning a music and art camp in Portsmouth, RI this summer.  For more information, visit the event site where we are offering a discount for a limited time only.

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