May 2020 Newsletter

Inspiring Hope In May 2020

Thank you to Sahithi Kondam, graduating Senior from Potomac, Maryland, to her brother Siddharth, and their wonderful parents. Read her compelling story of  Piano Pals in India,   a journey of compassion and love for her family's roots through the gift of music study.

This past summer, I took a program that I enjoy and love so deeply back to my home country of India. I have been a Piano Pals mentor for about six years now, and I have always seen the connections that we as mentors are able to make with our students firsthand. 

I began my journey by fundraising for keyboards and additional Faber Piano Adventures curriculum books for the kids that my brother Siddharth and I would using to teach. We held bake sales and activities at our high school so that local student musicians could learn about the importance of sharing music and the change that doing so can create. 

To keep up with the principles of Piano Pals, we aimed to find a school with underprivileged kids who would not be able to afford or have the opportunity to receive lessons. Through our friends and family back home, we learned that one of my dad’s childhood classmates had started a school in a rural village, catering to many students from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. We decided that this would be the perfect place to make a mark with our music.

The first day we arrived in the village was a day I will not forget. As we pulled up into the schoolyard, we were greeted by older students---with yellow flowers that they had handpicked---and by the inquisitive faces of younger students peering from the school windows. The elementary schoolers came out with tables to help set up the pianos and a small speaker so that the volume of the piano would be amplified. The students brought out chairs and gathered in front of the pianos so that we could begin our introduction. Siddharth and I introduced ourselves, and we could see their little giggles because of our foreign American accents. They asked us to play a song---we were rewarded with their applause and eagerness in their eyes. After the introduction, we took the pianos inside and began to teach. We had structured the lessons into sessions, with 2 students per session, such that I would take 8 sessions of girls and Siddharth would take 8 sessions of boys, amounting to 32 students in total. All of the students that we taught were in 7th grade, but the students who were not receiving lessons would stand outside the windows and watch as the lessons went on.  (Sahithi is seated in the middle below.)


Every day, we would come and teach our students, and every day, our bonds with the students would grow stronger and deeper. We would stay well after lessons were done and play with them in the yard in their free time. I would show pictures of my life back in America, and they would become excited because all of them dream of coming to the United States. We would talk about the importance of working hard and having goals, and it was clear that each of them held on to every word that we said. One day, one of my students handed me a small paper during her lesson with the names of about 5 or 6 songs. She told me that the night before she spent her free time memorizing those songs so that she could play them for me during her lesson. The small interactions I had with the students, like this one, made me realize the eagerness and the love they had for learning something new.  This meant so much to me. 

On the last day of the lessons, the mood was markedly different, and some of the students were noticeably sad. My brother and I conducted a little graduation ceremony and awarded them all Piano Pals wristbands. The accomplishment that they felt that day was palpable and radiant. We stayed longer to talk to and play with them, and when it came time to leave, I gave them all my phone number. They still talk to me to this day. 

I sometimes call the principal to see how the students are doing, and he tells me that they still play the piano. The students that I had taught now teach the other students who had not received the opportunity to take lessons.

Coming out of this experience, I have learned so much from my students, especially what it means to be grateful for everything in life and to seize every opportunity available. To other musicians: I hope that if you ever decide to visit another country, you take Piano Pals there, or a similar program for another instrument. I promise you that it will change how you view music and the relationships that you are able to forge with it.

When you see Sahithi and Siddharth (seated above front row center), congratulate them for their bold adventure into the unknown.  

Join us this Summer as we train and prepare the next teams for Piano Pals,
Guitar Pals, and Reading Express in Title 1 Schools and for HOC children in Maryland. We hope seeds of learning music will cross the oceans again some day, as they did through Sahithi and Siddharth's generosity.  They will continue to take root in the next generation of youth here in America.  Those who "walk the walk" on behalf of others become strong, resilient,  and compassionate.
They truly make a difference!

        Congratulations to Graduating Seniors in 2020!
  Look for a mid-May Newsletter with photos and testimonials of each one listed below.

     The Tacy Foundation Presents Outstanding Achievement Awards                                               To 2020 Graduating Seniors                                            

  1. Cyrus Amini
  2. Zoë Bell
  3. Kate Chen
  4. Bryce Edwards
  5. Dennis Erickson
  6. Kayleigh Hoang
  7. Evan Hu
  8. Sahithi Kondam
  9. Holly Lam
  10. Ashley Lee
  11. Danny Liu
  12. Alexander Matheus
  13. Kavya Rajaram
  14. Jialin Tso
  15. Michael Xie
  16. Natalya Volkova
  17. Cato Wang

              Thank you for Inspiring Hope, Note by Note!
  ALL BEST WISHES and GRATITUDE for Each One of You.

Distinguished Leadership Awards for Chief Interns for 2020

In Northern Virginia

  1. Elaine Chang
  2. Sophia Go
  3. Kayleigh Hoang
  4. Raelyn Hoang
  5. Nikita Lal
  6. Ashley Lee
  7. Irina Lee
  8. Alexander Msiaszek
  9. Alison Oh
  10. Alexander Suh
  11. Cassielle Sweda
  12. Jialin Tso
  13. Amy Tsou
  14. Hana Wang
  15. Emily Wu
  16. Michael Yu
  17. Andrew Zhang
  18. Angela Zhang

In Maryland

  1. Cyrus Amini
  2. Shairee Arora
  3. Ajeetha Arudchandran
  4. Zoë Bell
  5. Anderson Bernal
  6. Jackson Bernal
  7. Jason Daniels
  8. Dennis Erickson
  9. Lyle Erickson
  10. Joann Fan
  11. Rebecca Fan
  12. Ethan Fang
  13. George Frisbie
  14. Elizabeth Frisbee
  15. Evan Hu
  16. Andy Jiang
  17. Sahithi Kondam
  18. Celia Lam
  19. Katie Liu
  20. Alena Lu
  21. Pratyusha Mandal
  22. Candace Moore
  23. Nastaran Moghimi
  24. Tsach Mackey
  25. Haydn Ng
  26. Nathan Pan
  27. Isabelle Poggy
  28. Richard Qin
  29. Kavya Rajaram
  30. Anika A. Seth
  31. Ethan Schenker
  32. Alexandra Thalberg
  33. Julia Ting
  34. Natalya Volkova
  35. Vladimir Volkov
  36. Emily Wang
  37. Shaun Wang
  38. Alexander Wei
  39. Michael Xie
  40. Evan Xue
  41. Alice Yacubovich
     A Standing Ovation Goes to each Chief Intern and His/Her Family!

Graphic Design by Ana Eastep

Thank you to Matthew Scott and Anika Seth for their assistance with edits for the May Newsletter.

Charlotte Holliday, Founder



The Tacy Foundation empowers children and teens in the Nation's Capital and surrounding areas to share hope with hospital patients, senior citizens, and disadvantaged youth through performances, music recording projects, and music mentoring programs.                  
To each volunteer, thank you for making a difference!


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