by Melanie Zhang ’22
Published Dec. 23rd, 2020
For MHS junior Amelia Cunninhgam, music has always been a way to cope and persevere. Now during the COVID-19 pandemic when it is needed more than ever, Amelia continues to use her music to spread joy to others.
After starting violin lessons at eight years old, Amelia knew she wanted to be a violin teacher, which would combine two things that she loves: music and helping others. Unfortunately, much of it was an uphill battle. “People didn’t think that I’d be a violin teacher because I didn’t have the technical skills,” she says. As a result, Amelia put hours and hours into developing and perfecting her skills, spending up to twelve hours a day practicing as a child. “[Violin] made me have a really strong work ethic,” she says. “You have to be disciplined.”
The benefits of a strong work ethic and self-discipline extended beyond just playing an instrument, however. For Amelia, growing up with dyslexia meant that reading was extremely difficult, and she had to have an Individualized Education Program that she hated. “With the extra discipline, I [set] a goal of not being in this IEP anymore” she says. “[I] got out of it when everyone [told me] ‘you’re never gonna read or write’ [and] I can read Shakespeare, which no one thought I’d be able to do.”
Violin was also a way for Amelia to cope with hardships. As a child, she “was bullied severely [but was] able [to] take what was not good [and] make it the best it could be.” She would often come home from school upset, but would feel a lot better when she played violin. In UMS, she found a safe space in orchestra, created by Ms. Yavorsky. “I want to do that for people,” she says.
Cunningham has applied this attitude to the pandemic as well. She has carolled for her neighbors every year since eighth grade, but carolling in-person is impossible during quarantine. “I [decided to] make the most of a bad situation [and] recorded videos [so] that the older people that I carol for and care for would be able [to] enjoy them from the safety of their house,” she said. In total, she has posted nine covers to her YouTube channel.
Nowadays, Cunningham both teaches and learns music theory and violin online, continuing to grow as a musician and a person. “I’ve changed so much,” she says. “I’m a different student now.” One thing that will never change, however, is her passion for music and the tenacity and strength that she brings with it.
Check out Amelia’s YouTube covers by clicking this link here! Thank you to Amelia for sharing your passions with the world, and on behalf of the PawPrint team, we ask that you share Amelia’s videos and channel with friends and family to continue to spread the holiday cheer!