Since 5th grade Eric Lin loved the way his piano performances connected him to his audience, energizing him and spurring him to push his talents even further. As he prepared to perform in a cold, impersonal studio, something he didn’t enjoy, he was soon to discover how volunteering for the Tacy Foundation his would change his perceptions.
“When performing for live audiences, I often take inspiration from the energy of the crowd and use that motivation to play more beautifully,” said Lin, now a 17-year-old senior at Thomas Jefferson High school for science and technology. “Thus, I disliked the lonely and empty feeling of a recording studio where it was just me, a camera, a pair of microphones, and a bunch of wires.”
Mr. Lin loved performing free concerts as a Tacy volunteer, but also did his part when the call came to perform at the studio. To date the foundation has shipped over 4,000 CDs to hospitals and other places with people in need. The foundation’s mission is to foster healing through music, using the talents of classically trained youth and teen pianists and other musicians. Lin’s recorded music may have helped others, but over time he says it also helped him.
“In the past year when I started recording for the Tacy Foundation my experiences with the studio changed,” said Lin. “Thinking that my recordings will go on to potentially brighten a patient's day has truly motivated me to play my heart out during recording sessions. I no longer feel a lack of motivation while playing in recording studios.”
The foundation volunteers also teach low income youth and seniors who might never learn to play otherwise. Foundation volunteers give free concerts at hospitals and seniors centers across Maryland and Virginia. Lin was an avid performer for the foundation and, true to his nature as a performer he worked hard to make that audience connection.
“He has weekly piano performances for retired military officers in the retirement community operated by the Navy Marine Coast Guard Resident Foundation,” said his mother Fei Zhang. “This is his third year of service there. He always listens to the resident's requests, selecting songs such as "The Way We Were" to connect better with the Baby Boomer generation.”
Mr. Lin volunteer efforts don’t stop with his music, however. He mentors middle and elementary students in math and science and works as a teaching assistant for math, Java and Python programming classes at a weekend Chinese School.
Mr. Lin also won first place in 2017 Robert Spencer concerto competition and first place in the James C. Macdonald Performing Arts Scholarship Competition. He has also won the Tacy Foundation’s “Outstanding Community Service” award.
In May of 2017 he was awarded the Rho Psi Leadership and Community Service Scholarship. The Rho Psi Society (formerly Rho Psi Fraternity) was founded in 1916 at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Its core values revolve around supporting Chinese American youth, culture and community services.
Tacy Foundation President Charlotte Holliday was there to see Mr. Lin receive this honor and Mr. Lin donated $500 of his scholarship to the Tacy Foundation.
“When I first heard Eric play his music spoke of deep love, compassion and artistry through thought, hard work, and inspiration,” Ms. Holliday said. “Traveling to Kennedy Center in 2016 to hear him play with the National Symphony was such a great moment! His gift of $500 to our foundation is extraordinary.”