[nfbmi-talk] sound vision

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Tue Jan 18 12:54:52 CST 2011

Sound Vision


Published: Monday, January 17, 2011



Sound Vision - Grand Traverse Insider - Morning Star Publishing  frame

Sound Vision - Grand Traverse Insider - Morning Star Publishing  frame end


Sound Vision - Grand Traverse Insider - Morning Star Publishing  frame

Sound Vision - Grand Traverse Insider - Morning Star Publishing  frame end



Contributing Writer




The grand piano, currently being used by brothers Brandon and Elliot Tyson, was donated to the family by The Grand Traverse Pavilions. Photo by Katie Bedard-Goytowski


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Despite challenges, brothers share gift, love of music


NORTHERN MICHIGAN - Brandon and Elliot Tyson are no different from any other kids at their school.


Except, of course for one small thing: both twins are musical masterminds. Their instrument of choice is most often the piano, but they also sing and play

other instruments as well.


There is also one more unique fact about Elliot and Brandon: both boys are legally blind.


The boys, now age 12, were born several months premature, which halted development in their eyes. Elliot is legally blind, though he is able to read magnified

type and navigate the ‘seeing’ world successfully. Brandon is able to see some flashes of light but uses Braille and special computer software to read.


It was actually the therapy both boys received for their vision impairments that helped them realize their gifts early on.


“They really liked listening to music when they were younger,” said the boys’ mother, Kelle Tyson.


“Their therapists always say they were very rhythmic, and that music would calm them. They could sound out musical rhythms and songs (at a very young age),

and just ‘kerplunk’ familiar songs out (on the keyboard). Brandon could tell you what a note is just by hearing it.”


The boys were so talented, in fact, that the Tysons started them in piano lessons at age 4. Now, the twins practice at least an hour a day and take a lesson

once a week.


According to Tyson, the boys play duets together and work independently on different arrangements.


“They will each do a different piece,” she said, “then they own that piece. But they practice duets as well.”


With eight years of lessons under their belt, it’s not surprising that their knowledge of music and theory is extensive. But it doesn’t end with the piano.


Both boys participate in band at their school as well. Sixth-grader Brandon plays the trumpet, while Elliot plays the alto saxophone as a seventh-grader.

Both were blessed with “perfect pitch,” and also participate in the NMC Children’s Choir.


Together, they perform at a variety of venues throughout the year – from school concerts to area fundraisers – and even at the Pavilions in Traverse City,

where their great-grandmother is a resident.


Welcome blessing


This past fall, the Tyson family was given an incredible gift by the Grand Traverse Pavilions. While renovating a portion of its building, facility administrators

discovered that they needed to get rid of a piano to free up space. Someone suggested the Tysons, and the day after Thanksgiving the family had a grand

piano delivered to their house.


They have since polished it and given it a new home in the basement of their home, where Brandon and Elliot practice regularly on their other pianos, keyboards

and musical instruments.


Even with all the performance opportunities, the family works hard to keep Elliot and Brandon from being overwhelmed and overscheduled. Schoolwork is always

a priority, and so is time to ‘just be a kid.’


“They have jam sessions with neighborhood kids in the summertime,” Tyson said.


Music isn’t the only passion the twins cultivate. Both boys are “very techie,” according to their mom.


Elliot uses a variety of programs to help magnify computer screens, and Brandon is able to use a Narrator program to give voice instructions on the computer.

He is also interested in using a Braille computer. Additionally, the twins can use computer programs to help work on their own musical compositions.


These skills are something that they plan to take with them far into the future.


“Some day I would love to be able to (have a job) where I can use technology in music,” Elliot said.


Brandon’s dreams are a bit different.


“I plan to do music on the side,” he said. “But something in computers would be my main interest. I belong to a list-serv for Braille users, and there are

computer science majors on there.”


Most importantly, Kelle Tyson hopes the boys find something they love.


“I don’t want it to feel like work,” she said.


With music as the common denominator, that shouldn’t be a problem. Both boys already understand the benefits of practice and overcoming various challenges.

For them, the sound of success begins with a vision, visible in their passion to achieve what others find hard to imagine.



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