If you are given a choice, what would you opt for? The ability to walk again or the gift of music?
Meet Violinist Gaelynn Lea, who chose the path of music over a surgery which might have worked in her favour, as she could have been able to walk. But the determined Lea went for the greatest gift in life and never regretted.
Violinist Lea — because of her height (just 3ft tall) — prefers playing her violin like a cello. She even enhanced its features with haunting electronic loops. With this gift, she travels through America and Europe and spreads the music of the haunting electro-folk.
I added a video to a @YouTube playlist https://t.co/VSVeHWfbzl Gaelynn Lea: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
— Layla Roots (@LaylaRootsBand) February 10, 2017
“When I was in fourth grade I saw an orchestra which came to school and I remember being blown away by the sound,” she told BBC. “I actually wanted to play the cello because it’s beautiful, but it’s obviously really big.”
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Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Lea has Brittle Bone Disease (or, Osteogenesis Imperfecta), which hampered her growth, making her differently-abled as she looks smaller than usual. When she couldn’t hold the cello, Lea opted for the violin and scored 100% in a music aptitude test at school.
Congrats to 2016 #TinyDeskContest winner @GaelynnLea, whose #TinyDesk has hit a million views on YouTube! https://t.co/X6SsrLaQbq pic.twitter.com/xV0juhrFsU
— nprmusic (@nprmusic) February 10, 2017
After that, stopping Lea was impossible. “Because I did so well in the test, my teacher was really determined, and we experimented a lot until we worked out that I could play the violin like a cello,” Lea said.
She added, “She could have said ‘this isn’t going to work’ or ‘you should have done choir’ but she was really encouraging. We made a good team and I’m very grateful that she was so open-minded.”
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With her teacher as her backbone, this disability advocate learned how to play violin like a cello. “I can’t use my fourth finger because of the angle of my right hand, so I had to re-write a lot of classical music. It makes it a little harder to do some stuff, but I practise a lot,” she says.
Lea, who loves Celtic and American folk music, then mastered the haunting sound which later became her trademark.
With “nothing is written down, except the odd chord” while practising or producing a new song, Lea credits her loved ones for being there, beside her always.
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Her debut solo album ‘All the Roads that Lead Us Home’ released last year, in support of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest. She won the competition with more than 6,000 other musicians by releasing the song ‘Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun’.
Gaelynn Lea, winner of the NPR tiny desk contest playing @folkalliance violin + looping pedal awesome #FAI2017 pic.twitter.com/Ak1ir8y2xM
— f-martin (@frank_martin7) February 19, 2017
“I didn’t expect to win but it’s meant playing in a few places, including New York, which was a dream of mine, but I really want to play Paris,” she said.
What more can we say? While battling Brittle Bone Disease, this inspiring musician is setting a milestone for other aspirants to achieve their dreams against all odds.
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Feature Image Credit: NPR
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