I got my start in the Tacy Foundation 10 years ago in 2009, two years after the Foundation had first started. In 2007, Mrs. Charlotte Holliday's piano studio (the Holliday Piano Studio) recorded three sets of CDs to share music with hospital patients, one of whom was Mrs. Holliday's best friend. I remember being 4 or 5 years old and seeing a newspaper clipping from The Gazette, the local paper at the time, hung up in the home of one of our very close family friends, and I distinctly remember saying "Mom, I want to do that." I was drawn to music not for music itself, per se, but because through the Foundation's work, I saw and felt the connections that music is able to build between people.
From there, I started piano lessons with Mrs. Holliday, found a second family within the Holliday Piano Studio, and had the opportunity to both grow up in and with the Tacy Foundation. I've watched and been a part of the Foundation's growth from its inception, where it was the 80 or so students from Mrs. Holliday's own studio recording a few CDs a year and playing at one assisted living home (Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg) every month, to the current group of hundreds of student and parent volunteers who use their diverse array of instruments, skill sets, and backgrounds to create a global impact.
The Tacy Foundation now shares music by offering free piano and guitar lessons to students in numerous underserved schools across Montgomery County, MD who otherwise may not have the opportunity to take music lessons through Piano and Guitar Pals; holds live performances at assisted living homes and offers the Piano Pals program to seniors; organizes free live music concerts at hospitals and medical centers across the DMV area; and records CDs to send to hospitals and Fischer homes across the country as well as to U.S. military troops across the world.
Each week at my piano lesson, Mrs. Holliday has another story (or several) to share about the Foundation's work over the past week. The Foundation's impact isn't best measured through letters that former presidents have written to Mrs. Holliday and the Foundation commending its work (and they have) -- it's best measured through these stories. One that resonates deeply with me is about an email Mrs. Holliday received from the family of a girl who had been given one of the Tacy Foundation's CDs while she was in the hospital. The family asked if there was any way if they could get another copy of the CD that the girl had in the hospital because the CD had either broken or been misplaced, and it had meant the world to her. Mrs. Holliday and the Foundation mailed another copy of the CD over to the family. This is how we know that the Foundation's work makes an impact. The stories are endless.
At every Tacy Foundation event I attend, I am reminded of the profound impact that the Foundation not only has on the world surrounding us, but also on us ourselves, the students. I think I speak for all my peers when I say that the Foundation has taught us to communicate, to listen, to sympathize, and to empathize.
As I get older, everything seems to become more and more competitive. High school isn't easy to navigate, and the pressure can be overwhelming, but I've been fortunate in always having had music to go back to. My mom likes to say that when I sit at the piano and play an old favorite song, she can tell whether I'm happy, sad, angry, or frustrated just by hearing me play despite having never played an instrument herself. I’ve always used music as my outlet, much as some people write or paint. But on the flip side, I know several classmates who have quit an instrument that they once loved playing because competitions and stress took the joy out of playing for them.