by MICHELLE TREMBLAY
photos by Spark Photography

Giving the Gift of music

You would never know it, but Olivia Donald has otosclerosis – a condition in the ears that can result in hearing loss; and, as a result, had once worn hearing aides in both ears. This piece of information is quite ironic considering that Olivia has such an “ear for music.” Olivia started playing piano at age 7, and then went on to receive her Bachelors of Music degree in piano performance and music education from the University of Oregon, and her Masters of Music degree in piano performance from The Boston Conservatory. Today, Olivia is owner of a San Diego music school called, Sing, Move, and Play Music Academy. As she continues to expand her business she also volunteers with Westwood Elementary’s Music Program in an effort to not only share her gift of music with others, but to help them embrace their inner-musician as well.

“My children attended school at Westwood, and I wanted to have my children attend a school with a music program, so I offered to teach it,” said Olivia of her decision to become involved with the program. “I teach Transitional Kindergarten through 4th grade classes. This year I have had twenty-three classes take music. Each grade level signs up for a music session that lasts from five to ten weeks. During their session the classes come once a week to music.”

Olivia has been with the program for just a short while, but is already seeing the impact it has made on the kids. “I have only been volunteering at Westwood for the past two and a half years, but I do have several students that take 5th grade band and continue on to band in middle school,” she shared. Admitting that she wishes the school district would employ a full-time, paid music specialist on campus, Olivia is happy to help out where she can. “Music plays such an important role in children’s lives and development,” said Olivia. “Waiting until 5th grade to have music in the schools is missing a huge window of learning opportunities with these children.” She added, “I want to create strong musicians instilled with a love who will enjoy music throughout their entire lives.”

AT-A-GLANCE

Name: Olivia Donald
Community: Bernardo Point
Volunteer Affiliations: Westwood Elementary, RBCPC, NSDMTAC
Profession: Owner and head teacher at Sing, Move and Play Music Academy
Family: Husband – Elliott Donald, Children – Connor (13), Quinton (11) and Phoebe (8)
Hobbies: Walking, sewing, and knitting