Special needs education brings NU volunteers together for concert

    In a practice room in Regenstein this past Saturday, a group of six Northwestern flautists could be heard rehearsing a medley of old classics like “Shenandoah” and “’Tis a Gift.”

    “Don’t run away from the dissonance,” Bienen graduate student Sandra Gebram said to the flautists as she coached them. The flautists are some of the volunteers for Harmony of Hearts Ensemble, a campus branch of an organization that originated in San Jose, Calif. They teach students with special needs to play instruments and create an environment where they can build relationships, said Co-President Hee Jae Choi. The Bienen freshman was involved with Harmony of Hearts Ensemble as volunteer president in high school and wanted to continue with the organization when she came to Northwestern. She founded the campus branch with Weinberg sophomore John Lee this year. They recruited volunteers the same way any other student group would — putting up flyers and talking to their friends.

    The student group is hoping to kick off the organization in Evanston by hosting a concert this Saturday. In addition to volunteers performing, there will be soloists and groups from the original San Jose branch of Harmony of Hearts Ensemble performing at the concert, including David Han, a blind student who plays the clarinet.

    “We haven’t started teaching students yet,” Choi said. “We hope the concert gives the volunteers a snippet of what we’re aiming for and raises awareness about our organizations to the Evanston community.”

    Choi’s favorite part of working with Harmony of Hearts Ensemble is that it shows her a side of music she had never seen. “I sometimes feel that the children don’t think they’d be able to do it,” Choi said. “There are a lot of miracles, and it’s showed me another beauty in music.”  

    The volunteer concert will take place in the Jeanne Vail Chapel (1870 Sheridan Road) on Saturday, May 22 at 7 p.m.


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