Pursue music and the arts as a visually impaired creator

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Audi Ellis details her challenges and successes in pursuing music as a visually impaired designer in an unknown land.

Guest post by Talia smith of TakeNote from Berklee Online

Audi Ellis recently started high school in Incheon, South Korea. The 15-year-old moved with her family from Chicago in June 2021 when her father accepted the post of vice president of a pharmaceutical company. Competitive figure skater, cellist, actor and now Berklee online certificate As a student, Audi is adapting all of her passions to her new home, and connecting with Berklee’s global music community helps fill some gaps.

“It’s hard to live in a foreign country,” says Audi. “You feel like an outcast, especially because of the language barrier. However, studying with Berklee Online has given me something to do. I was able to connect with other musicians and learn a lot. . . finding my people through Berklee has had a huge impact on my life.

Audi approaches its passion for the arts with as much courage as traveling 6,000 miles around the world. As a visually impaired designer, Audi is used to navigating new environments and not compromising on her art, although it hasn’t been easy.

“Whether it’s with the music or whatever, I’ve been through some tough times with it, but I’ve grown up,” says Audi. “I think it’s something that defines who I am. And I use it as a way to empower myself and empower others.

Audi has nystagmus, which makes her eyes move quickly, and tapered rod dystrophy, which causes vision loss over time.

“They basically affect my vision in several different ways with clarity,” says Audi. “I lack depth perception, which means grasping the distance is really hard. So something may seem closer to me than to someone with normal vision.

This is something that preoccupied Audi’s mother when she first expressed her interest in figure skating. However, through trial and error and a few bruises along the way, Audi has learned to calibrate in a way that allows it to thrive in sports.

“It took a lot of wall jumps to figure it all out,” says Audi. “Lots of practice and determination of the rink and its dimensions so I knew when to jump, whether I was jumping later or earlier, depending on where the wall was.”

Even though Audi may laugh at her persistence in the sport, it was difficult to stand up for her needs and convince her coaches to let her compete. Audi must have hit more metaphorical walls by playing the cello in his school orchestra. Audi’s mom enlarged and printed all of her sheet music, and her college mates weren’t nice about it.

“I remember I was always teased for it, growing up,” says Audi. “At one point I said I wasn’t going to use expanded music and just suffered with little music that I couldn’t see at all. It was terrible, but I suffered because I didn’t want to be the different kid.

Fortunately, Audi and his family met a violinist from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Alison dalton, who is also visually impaired. She recommended Audi a device that displays digitally magnified scores that can switch to the next staff with a pedal. Audi describes the device as a lightweight tablet the size of a Macbook desktop computer that can sit on a desk.

“I remember when I first got it I got to see choppy marks and things I’ve always been told about,” Audi says. “I was like, oh my god they actually exist! I can see them. Wow! I went through a lot of difficult times when I was like “this is not worth it”. But I kept moving forward because I had my family and people supporting me.

Audi receives the same support for her acting efforts by participating in her school’s musical. The secret garden, and running his TikTok account, which includes lip-syncs of his favorite TV drama monologues from Grey’s Anatomy, and shows from his hometown like A Chicago.

“I fell in love with acting because I thought it was such a cool art form to be able to ask someone to come up with this idea and take what’s on a piece of paper and take it out of it. bring life, ”says Audi. “I found it incredibly fascinating.”

In her sophomore year in high school, Audi still has time to figure out what she wants to do for a career. Audi says she’ll likely want to come back to the United States for college and wants to double the major in acting and cello. Audi takes a head start by winning it Certificate of General Musical Studies with Berklee online.

“I am happy to be able to show that it is available for all ages of people who want to pursue it,” Audi said. “If you’re a high school student and you see this, go for it!” It might sound terrifying and overwhelming, and like, oh my God, how can I do that? But you will understand. If you are committed and want to do it, you will take the time to do it.


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