Zoë Bell: What The Tacy Foundation Means to Me

Tyler Butler-Figueroa is an 11 year old boy who played the violin on America's Got Talent. He was originally bullied at school, but he found a passion in music when he saw a flyer for free violin lessons. He begged his mom for lessons, and after years of practice, he’s performing on a national television show.

I just wanted to thank you, Charlotte Holliday, for all that you do and all that the Tacy Foundation provides for children just like Tyler. I can't believe that kids can be so cruel to antagonize a child for having cancer, but he was able to turn to music.

While Tyler didn’t get his lessons from Piano Pals, we know there are a lot of kids in our area who are learning to play music and gaining self-esteem thanks to the free music lessons Tacy Foundation provides.

Programs like Piano Pals® and Guitar Pals® are changing the lives of these students. People can see Tyler Butler-Figueroa play on YouTube. His performance is inspiring. It shows the impact of free music lessons.

I can tell you how being a part of The Tacy Foundation as a volunteer helped me grow as a musician.

I grew up listening to the older (high school) kids play at Asbury: Jake Engel, Adam Burke, Foteine Dimitracopoulos, George Benskin, Ryan Utz.  I got to know them in a way because I looked up to them so much. I always admired how advanced their pieces were. One December, years ago, Jake played the “Sleigh Ride” duet with Mrs. Holliday, and I loved how upbeat the song was. It really stuck out to me in my memory. He’s so advanced, and no one else has played this song, I thought.

Last December, 2018, I was the one who played “Sleigh Ride” with Mrs. Holliday to enthusiastic applause. It just amazed me so much that I had finally played the song that was so prominent in my memory. Time goes by fast, and we follow in the footsteps of those who came before us.

One of my favorite memories as a volunteer is the World War II veteran who approached the Tacy volunteers with a copy of sheet music to Joan Savage’s “You’ll Never Know How Much I Miss You.” He asked if one of the young musicians could play the song.


I’m always looking for something new, so I volunteered to accompany him. Although it was my first time ever seeing this music, I tried my best on the piano, while the man sang along. During the piece, I felt overjoyed that I was able to provide this resident with a way to express his feelings through song.

-- Tacy Volunteer Zoë Bell



Founder’s Note: Zoë Bell has recorded holiday music every year since first grade.  Her huge compassion for the sick gave her the strength to overcome her performance anxiety in order to record for those in hospitals and those service member who were wounded from battle.  As she enters her senior year of high school next fall, Zoë will have recorded an entire CD album of Holiday Songs for the Foundation!  Look for it next November.”

Meanwhile, all of the preparation and live performance opportunities have sharpened Zoë Bell’s talents. As a Sophomore, she served as Chief Intern for Larmax Homes in Bethesda, organizing and playing Live Music for seniors every month for a year. 

As a junior this year, Zoë has continued to serve as Chief Intern at Asbury Methodist Village every third Sunday, welcoming the performers, announcing the volunteers, engaging with the seniors in conversation, and also performing her favorite pieces.

Zoe, her parents, and Mrs. Holliday were especially proud last spring, when Zoë Bell received the coveted Paderewski Medal from the American College of Musicians in Austin, Texas. This Medal is most arduous to achieve.  It requires a decade of relentless work and progress.  The applicant must perform from memory a total of ten songs and musicianship phases per year.  The length and difficulty of the repertoire increase incrementally through the years until an advanced pianist emerges.  Each High School Piano Guild Program is equal to a solo piano concert program. Zoë received the Paderewski Award in the spring of her Sophomore year of high school.

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