I discovered the violin when I was four. I loved playing, loved music, so much that I took every chance to play I could get. I joined orchestras, played in string quartets, attended summer music festivals, whatever. That love has stayed with me to this day. But whenever I look back to those days, what often strikes me is the lack of diversity.
I was often very isolated: I was almost always the only black person in the orchestra. Teachers often discouraged me from following my dreams. I had so much talent, but the parents and the staff of those music festivals I loved to attend only saw me as the "scholarship kid." The first time I met another black string player, I was 15; according to The Strad, black and Latino musicians make up less than 4% of orchestras.
Luckily, I had enough emotional and financial support to push past the racism and classism I experienced. But other kids aren't so lucky. And really, they shouldn't have to be. I want to bring more diversity, access, and inclusion into the classical world.
That is why I started Strings By Heart.