Hearing the sound of piano keys brings peace to this 62-year-old elephant.
Lam Duan – meaning “Tree with Yellow Flowers” has had a tough life. The blind elephant spent the first thirty years of her life in hard working conditions. After working twenty years in the logging trade, she later gave rides to tourists.
A pair of owners took her in until she was moved to Elephants World in Thailand, an elephant rescue sanctuary.
At the Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind in Reseda this week, artist Elizabeth Criss was offering her students words of encouragement.
“Oh, you are doing good! Let me take this out to dry,” Criss said to a student, picking up a long form in the shape of a fish, wet with paint, and carrying it outside.
For the last several months, Criss has led a group of about 40 adults with visual and other disabilities who participate in the centers’ day program to create three new artworks for the centers’ shady garden.
On Thursday, the Therapeutic Living Centers will open its doors for a public reception to debut the art. It’s a chance to connect with neighbors and show what this group of people can do, said Cyndi McCauley, executive director at the centers.
“They’ve created something together. That’s something that people forget, that the folks we work with can do (this), that they are a part of this community,” McCauley said.
Mubarak Farah was eight years old when he began teaching himself to play the piano. A refugee who came to Ottawa with his family when he was three, Farah listened to the Somali folk music played from his family’s cassettes, matching the notes on his keys and eventually figuring out the chords being played.
An impressive accomplishment for a child to do on his own, but Farah had something else setting him back: he was born with glaucoma and had lost all his vision by the time he was six. Unable to read music, “everything was done by sound and touch,” he said.
Lat week, Farah, now 30 and a professional blues pianist, opened Ability Through Music, a music school for children and adults with disabilities, and hopes to empower people by teaching them piano. The academy welcomes people of all skill levels. Though it’s currently offering piano lessons, it’s trying to expand its lessons to other instruments.
Farah understands the impact playing music can have on anyone, especially people with disabilities.
That was me trying to teach my 82-year-old grandpa, Harold, how to use his new computer’s Microsoft Paint Program. It was 1997, and Grandpa Hal was ready to paint. He had done it with actual paintbrushes all his life–and now he was learning how to do it on the computer, a technological advancement that at the time seemed alien to this World War II veteran. Eventually, it would become an art form that reflected his earlier artistic talent–and, fortunately, would ultimately al