Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Happy Gene

March has been quite a busy month, packed with performances and events. This past weekend I was excited to see the Birdhouse Factory at the Broward Center for Arts, but I also played a concert at a private party for families with children who are diagnosed with Williams Syndrome. This event was one of the most unique audiences that I have ever played for, and quite possibly the most inspiring and enjoyable!

I was told by the party's host, as I was packing up to leave, that Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that is often called "The Happy Gene." Though this fact was shared with me on my way out, it was apparent when I walked through the door. I was greeted by smiling faces, palpable excitement to see my guitar and banjo, and many friendly questions. "No, I am not in the Jonas Brothers, though I am named Nick," "Yes this is a guitar, I also have a banjo to play," "Yep, this is my guitar shirt. I wear it to all my performances... pretty cool huh?"

The audience was a mix of parents and children (which is typical), but the kids ranged in age from 2-22 (not typical). Some of the younger audience members seemed a bit upset by the loud singing and high-energy dancing and covered their ears. I am used to this reaction from children who are sensitive to sound or motion, and don't take offense. Surprisingly, the die-hards who were dancing and singing until the final number were the teens and 20 year olds. This group of families living with Williams Syndrome, who meet regularly, are called the Smiling Faces Network. It was an honor and a pleasure to play for it's members and a real inspiration to make music with such a great crowd.

Kid's Quote of the Day: "Here's a puzzle for you. Now when you travel, you can have something to do." ~Emily (age 12) who handed me a smiley-face, tile puzzle after my performance.

1 comment:

Anne Deysher said...

Thanks for sharing that inspirational story of your playing for families with children who have Williams Syndrome. I will have to find out more about it. How gratifying!