Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Jazz student deals with unique challenge
When Billy Gensel was 18 months old, he put his lip to a peanut butter cracker. He wrinkled his nose and gave it back to his mother. He didn’t taste it or swallow any of it, but within five minutes his face puffed up, his eyes swelled and he broke out in hives all over his body.
At age 2 1/2, his mother, Karen, spoke to an allergist who said peanuts could kill him if he came in contact with them. Ever since, she's been vigilant about keeping them away from him.
Now 11, Billy plays piano with the Intro to Jazz Ensemble class with James Crumbly. He’ll perform with other jazz students in the upcoming Jazz Jam on May 10.
“We’re grateful to any facility who takes extra precautions for us to keep him safe,” said Karen. “The consideration and sensitivity of the class is just awesome.”
The vending machines are shut off during Billy’s classes, and, Karen said, other students are mindful of not eating anything with peanuts prior to class, and antibacterial wipes are kept on hand.
“You just don’t find that attention to detail any place else,” she said.
Billy has played piano since the age of three, and started at the Patel Conservatory two years ago. He was looking to play in a group environment and found the Intro to Jazz Ensemble.
“When you play with others, it’s more energetic,” said Billy, who says he's learned a lot about ragtime and other styles of music in the class.
“I have learned a lot in the two years I’ve been there,” he said, “Mr. Crumbly tells us where stuff came from.”
In addition to the repertoire of songs he’s learned, he’s gotten the history behind the music.
Other classes performing in the Jazz Jam concert include Advanced Jazz Combo and Adult Jazz Voice Ensemble.
Join us for a fun evening of jazz music! The concert will be at 7 p.m. in the TECO Theater.