Local piano student wins piano award

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX)-- An East Lansing High School student who has autism, and a gift for music, is the first winner of a new award. News 10's morning anchor Lora Painter finds out how this local teen's special talent for music won him a gift of his own.

Kalil Olsen is a senior at East Lansing High school and he is the first winner of the the Brian Jemelian Award for Outstanding Achievement. Olsen's mother, Ann, said she has always dreamed of having a beautiful piano for her son to practice on. Thanks to this award he can further his education and continue to give his gift of music.

Ann Olsen said, "I've gone through a lot of battles in my life with cancer. More recently In April I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.Knowing that when I'm no longer here... there's something very reassuring about knowing that he'll have a quality instrument to continue to work on for the rest of his life."

Kalil said his previous piano, which he had since he was a small child, had many things wrong with it, including it being severly out of tune and some keys would stick. Those will not be problems for him now, thanks to his new Clavinova digital piano from Yamaha. Lansing's Marshall Music provided the piano's move to the Olsen's home. Kalil's teacher, MSU professor and director of piano pedagogy Derrick Polischuk, said this new piano is more than just a special award.

Polischuk said, "Students with autism are of a diverse population of people that think in a different way than the rest of us. Music is a form of communication. Kalil is more able to communicate his feelings through the instrument than perhaps verbally sometimes."

About Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life:
Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life is coordinated by the MSU College of Music and sponsored by Michigan State University as part of the RAIND Program, with generous support provided by the MSU Office of the Provost, and the following corporate sponsors and donors: Sparrow Health System and the MSU Federal Credit Union, as well as generous support from MSU alumni and friends: April Clobes and Glen Brough, Lauren Harris, Merritt and Candy Lutz, Jack and Karen Noonan, along with support from the Frances Baldwin Mulnix Endowment Fund at MSU. Special thanks to Dean Trailways for generously providing all transportation needs for festival participants.

Private support helped provide dollars to sponsor each student participant, enabling them to attend the festival tuition free. Funds also covered stipends for College of Music student mentors who buddied-up with the festival participants.

About Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute:
Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute is a not-for-profit 501(C)(3) organization dedicated to interdisciplinary development, scientific investigation, professional training and clinical amalgamation of active music participation strategies with integrative evidence-based medical insights for the purpose of enhancing quality of life for individuals of all ages regardless of race, ethnicity or disability.