A Special Student …

Although I consider myself to be a string specialist (violin, viola, cello and bass), with a background in music and education from the University of Toronto (with pedagogical training on band instruments), I am occasionally approached to teach “non-stringed” instruments in my home studio …

About a month ago, I started to teach a new private student named Bernie Ross. Bernie is learning the clarinet in the Grade 7 Band at Guelph Community Christian School (formerly John Calvin, where I used to run the band program a couple of years back). He is coming to me each Monday at 3:30 p.m. for a half hour of extra coaching to get a head start on his instrument. Bernie was born with Type 2 – Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In his early childhood, he was not able to crawl or walk. His disability has restricted him to an electric wheel chair (which he is especially good at driving!). We are exploring creative ways for him to learn the clarinet. I have been amazed and inspired by his determination to persevere and overcome despite his handicaps. He is a very musically talented boy! Today, we practised “long tones” to develop his lung capacity and various finger independence exercises to increase his finger strength and dexterity. I am amazed and very proud of his progress so far. He is a special student …


Bernie plays the clarinet. He does not have enough strength in his arms to hold it on his own, so rests it on an adjustable tray for extra support.


Everything Bernie does takes extra effort. I am inspired by his determination to overcome despite his handicaps.

5 replies
  1. Ian
    Ian says:

    Hey, I caught some of your videos on youtube. I’m really glad you’re able to help enrich the lives of young people like this, I’m sure it makes the process of learning a new instrument that much more enjoyable and rewarding for Bernie, as well.

    Just thought I’d drop a line and say hello, and God bless!

  2. Ricki Bristow
    Ricki Bristow says:

    I just wanted to say thank you Trevor for your years of service to the kids in the Guelph community. You were my band teacher back in 1996 and it is really neat to hear Bernie (my younger brother) sing your praises the way I did at that age. It takes a really special person to continually inspire new kids year after year.
    Ricki Bristow ne Ross


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Occasionally,  I feel led to highlight the accomplishments of some of my music students. I have done this previously here and here. […]

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