GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — Music has many meanings, and for the Ovandos music is language.
“We have some lessons with students in Mexico,” said Alex, a music teacher from Guatemala whose first language is Spanish.
His wife Yelena is from Russia and together they’ve raised their family in Memphis, including 11 -year-old Marco.
“It’s easier for kids to learn languages when they’re younger because they can adapt to it,” he explained.
Just a few months before the pandemic, they started Music Box with zero students. Now that numbers sits at 125. They’ve even offered free music lessons to first responders and their families, and those going through tough medical times.
“We put our creative juices to work and we said what can we do to help?” said Yelena.
The Ovando family may have helped more than they realize.
“Our house was always filled with music before, always music and then Micah’s diagnoses happened and no music, it was just like silence. It was eerie,” said Heather Ternahan.
Micah, now five, was diagnosed with stage four adrenocortical carcinoma in 2019. It’s a rare and deadly cancer that uprooted the family from Tampa so Micah could be treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Now, little Micah sings from his hospital bed while his two sisters enjoy music lessons at The Music Box thanks to a scholarship fund.
“Do they seem happier to you?” asked WREG’s Symone Woolridge.
“Yes. Yes. 100 percent. Yup. Music brings life. It does. It’s an art but it’s a joy,” Ternahan replied.
A joy that everyone found through the love of music.