Musical mission inspires new club

Because of its universal appeal, music is the medium the Strike a Chord Project will use to  provide therapy for students with disabilities.

According to Diamond Bar High School sophomore Kyle Yang, the club’s president, Strike a Chord Project—which originally started as a registered nonprofit organization and was  established as a club in March—began as a means to make studying music more accessible to students who might not normally have the opportunity to do so.

“Growing up [with] music education, I’ve heard the phrase ‘music is a universal language’ more times than I can imagine,” Yang said via Instagram. “Yet on the other hand, I’ve also been taught that the ability to appreciate music is of direct correlation to how much education you’ve received in music.”

The club plans to provide one-on-one lessons and group lessons led by their student musicians. Students who are interested in learning an instrument are referred to the club through the Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder Institute programs at DBHS. 

“These instruments would be easy to pick up and learn, such as the marimbas, drums, the triangle that would first introduce them to rhythm,” sophomore Secretary Kaley Wong said via Instagram. “And maybe when they get more advanced, they could learn instruments that require a little more effort, such as piano, violin, trumpet.”

All of the club’s procedures are overseen by the Special Education program at DBHS, and funding for the educational supplies will be raised through benefit concerts with performances by club members, as well as donations.

“Since Strike a Chord Project is a relatively new club, and also due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club hasn’t been able to start on everything we’ve set out to do,” Yang said. “We’d most likely start by establishing a GoFundMe page, as they seem to be most accessible for anyone who’d like to donate.”

Aside from the musical education opportunities presented by the club, the Strike a Chord project also hosts sessions with lectures by professionals about special education and music therapy.

“Our club combines a general meeting with an event where we invite special guests to teach us more about music therapy, special education, basically all things music-related,” Wong said. “Our first ever meeting involved learning about special education through Mrs. [Tiffany] Brito, DBHS’s very own special education specialist.”

Other guests that the Strike a Chord Project has invited to present include DBHS Performing Arts Academy faculty Michael Yoshimi, Marie Santos, Steve Acciani and Aki Nishiguchi.

Recently, the club has been focusing on growing its social media presence to attract more members, as well as planning online meetings using Zoom. Both Yang and Wong said they enjoy the learning opportunities the club offers and recommend students join to cultivate an appreciation for music and to enhance their musical ability. 

“Regardless of if music really is a universal language, everyone should be given the same opportunities to share the same love and fire as I do for playing the violin — including students with disabilities,” Yang said.