• Now that I’ve grown into an adult, I’d like to formally thank El Gervasio for being such a significant and positive influence on my life. I took private violin lessons from El beginning when I was only 5 years old and continued for roughly 10 years. In addition to seeing her every Thursday night for a lesson in Suzuki Violin, which began with a pizza-box cut-out with my feet traced in first-position and second-position (I still have it!) and evolved into something that taught me life lessons far beyond the scope of music technique and theory.

    Two lessons, in addition to a profound appreciation for music, that I vividly remember learning were:

    –If you want to get something done right, you have to put your concentration bubble on. A technique I have used repeatedly outside of my music.

    –Prejudice can sneak up on you if you’re not careful and it can unintentionally hurt the ones you love if you’re not careful. I recall that a few of us, fifth grade or so, were going to be strolling minstrels at a fireman’s convention. I remember gloating that I wasn’t nervous about the performance because the audience was made up of all firemen who probably wouldn’t know if I played a couple wrong notes. El immediately reminded me that before she taught music, she was a registered nurse and went to similar conventions. I remember feeling slightly foolish and consciously learning how character cannot be judged by appearance ever. Today, I am a Rate Analyst for a small water utility company; I attend lots of conventions just like the firemen’s convention, and have over 22 years of experience playing music. I was forever changed for the better the day she taught me that lesson, and the thought of those firemen will continue to chase any fleeting prejudice thoughts from my head.

    Additionally, a result of El’s involvement with the school orchestra, I made several friends who I am still close with today. We spent lots of time together at rehearsals and at school, bonding through the many events laid out before us by the seemingly anonymous adults. Looking back, I understand that we were the start-up kids in an under-funded public school orchestra who were a part of something magnificent and who never really appreciated the extreme amount of work that made it all possible. Now that I’ve helped start a not for profit theater company and have had some experience in renting venues, coordinating performances, and writing grants, I feel very touched to have had someone put so much loving effort into my future without ever asking for anything in return.

    After El and I parted ways, I continued to play violin through high-school, college, and into today. Although I studied Physics in college, I played electric violin in several blues, jazz, and bluegrass groups, and made most of my closest friends through music. I expanded my love for music into operatic voice, small group ensembles, choir, barbershop quartets, and now play the mandolin, piano, and have begun to learn the ukelele. On days when my commute home from work is atrocious, and I am stuck in Los Angeles traffic for what seems to be an eternity, I come home, rattle off a couple of concertos from my old Suzuki books, work hard on a new Mendellsohn concerto I’m learning; suddenly the stress of the day just melts away.

    So I’ll end with, “Thank You”, from the bottom of my soul, to El Gervasio for giving me a gift that keeps on giving, and for putting in all the extra effort to ensure my childhood was rich with art and culture. I was overjoyed to learn that the kids in the Flagler Youth Orchestra were having a similar experience to mine, I will gladly testify that the impact is significant and extremely positive down the road.

    Thanks again,

    Your loving student,
    Eric J Wright