by Danielle Cho
In October we had the honor of presenting at the 37th annual Fulbright conference in Washington DC. We started off our session by playing the second movement from Kryzsztof Penderecki’s string trio. If you don’t know it, you should listen to this beast of a piece. After we finished, we heard one lady in the audience exclaim, “What WAS that?!” That is exactly the kind of response we wanted to hear! We wanted the audience to be a little offended and exposed to new sounds, which would eventually start getting people to think outside of the box. The theme of the session was, “Dare to Impact”. Isn’t that so perfect? Because we are Sound Impact.
Sound Impact was formed a little over a year ago by myself, Rebecca Jackson and Tiffany Richardson with the common goal of inspiring communities and igniting change through the universal language of music.
A common question we get asked a lot is, “When did you start playing music?” Well, I was five; Rebecca was three; Tiffany was seven. From a very young age, we have spent countless hours in a practice room perfecting our technique and musicianship. (Hopefully we reached Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour practice rule by the age of twenty.) Playing music has taught us values such as dedication, discipline, perseverance and confidence. Playing chamber music has taught us teamwork and communication. Music has given us a community and a path to follow from a very young age.
We feel very lucky to be professional musicians that have performed in some of the biggest concert halls across the world. But we reached a point where we began to feel restless and wanted to do more. We wanted to use music in a bigger way, to go outside of the box, and push our boundaries. How could we use music to serve a greater good, a greater purpose?
This is the premise of why we founded Sound Impact. Whatever project we take on, we want to use music as a tool to empower people all across the world.
Many people ask if we are a string trio. Well the answer is no. Sound Impact is a collective of musicians, and therefore, each project brings aboard different collaborators. We like to rotate the roster of musicians and instruments to diversify the sounds. So far we have had some pretty awesome guest musicians from all over the world.
Many of you might have seen that we went to Costa Rica this past summer. We embarked on a five city, ten day tour presenting masterclasses and concerts in SINEM schools all across the country. SINEM is the national music education program which is government funded and open to all children.
In Costa Rica, we quickly learned there was a scarcity of music, instruments and resources but the students approach music with such eagerness and passion that these issues are merely small hurdles, which they face fearlessly. We learned it wasn’t about us, but it was about giving back to these children the very things we had the privilege of learning as young kids.
This trip also showed us how through music we could develop ties of friendship and solidarity between different cultures. This is something the Fulbright does so well. The Fulbright program is the largest US exchange program and fosters cultural exchange and mutual understanding. In 2006, I had the honor of receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study in Barcelona, Spain. Without a doubt, this changed the trajectory of my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for the Fulbright experience. It opened my eyes to a new perspective, to a new way of approaching the world and different cultures.
During the conference, we heard the powerful words of former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo – “I am free thanks to education.” He spoke of the way that education freed him to pursue his dreams and become the man he is today. Programs like the Fulbright allow hundreds of thousands of people the access and resources to make their dreams happen.
Similarly, Sound Impact wants to use music as a tool for empowerment in children across the world. We can only hope to instill dreams and confidence for a brighter future.
As Senator Fulbright said, “The rapprochement of peoples is only possible when differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned, when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.”