What’s a fourth-grader to do with talent, time and a recital coming soon?
Take to the sidewalks to play violin for a good cause, of course.
On a beautiful and busy Saturday in downtown Winslow, Axel Edwards, 9, stood in front of the former hardware store and played his violin.
The sign sitting next to his open violin case read, “Help Nepal.”
For an hour on May 2, the Wilkes Elementary student practiced all the songs he needed to know for an upcoming performance. His mother, Christine Edwards, stood nearby and answered questions for strangers.
Yes, he’s practicing.
Yes, he’s doing it for a good cause.
No, this isn’t for ice cream money.
While he worked out the kinks for recital, he also brought in droves of people who donated $175 in cash. The following week, he was invited to play live at Spice Route, where he raised another $30 in donations.
Nepal, devastated by an earthquake in April, was struck by another large-magnitude quake again this week. The aftermath has been devastating for locals, wiping out their homes, livelihoods and families.
When asked why he felt it was important to help, Axel sat quiet for a moment.
“If I’m in Nepal and I’m living in a tarp, what really I would probably wish for is the situation to be different,” he said. “If I can make that happen, that would be great, right? So I feel pretty accomplished, and I felt like I did my job raising that money for Nepal.”
Axel practices the Suzuki violin method, and his teacher, Katherine Davies, prompted her students to prep for the upcoming show with much practice.
After the news of the earthquake, she gave them another challenge: Ask for pledges for a flat amount or certain rate per minute in exchange to practice.
The funds will go to the Tamangs, a local Nepalese family of five who lost their home in the disaster.
Through various connections, Davies learned the family is well-known to Karla Piecuch, Bainbridge Island Montessori Country School Associate Head. During a trip to the Langtang region in the early ’90s, Piecuch met Phurpu Tsering Tamang. Since then, she’s called him “family” and has connected with Tamang, his wife and three children.
In a separate fund-raiser, within 12 days, Piecuch generated nearly $9,000 donations through a GoFundMe page to help the family. All the music students who participated in raising money will bring in checks to be sent to Piecuch for the GoFundMe campaign.
With the help of the community — and other music students like Axel – the hope is to ensure the family doesn’t live under a tarp much longer. Even if it means doing something a little out of the ordinary to raise awareness and donations.
“He’s always game for performing,” Edwards said. “I think he was very happy about the opportunity to do something for people who are in trouble. He really thought it was terrific, and I think we were shocked by the fact that people are quite generous. Most people were throwing in a $1 and some were going to an ATM machine. It was insane.”
One moment that especially resonated with Axel and his mother was a visit paid to them by a woman and her daughter who had just hopped off the ferry.
The daughter was about the same age as Axel and had been adopted from Nepal. The village she was from had been destroyed in the earthquake, Edwards was told.
“The connection was pretty immediate. She was about his age. I think it made a difference,” Edwards said. “It was quite amazing. I thought, ‘Goodness gracious, what are the chances of that?’”