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Tampa violin teacher coaches student from hundreds of miles away

Alanis Trejo had to make an emergency trip to Mexico. Her instructor started coaching violin from Tampa. It's created a special playing opportunity for the family.
Credit: Bobby Lewis

ZACATECAS, Mexico — In a time when almost everyone's life has transitioned into a more digital workflow, Michelle Painter has grown accustomed to giving violin lessons over the internet.

“Every day is different,” she said via ZOOM call Wednesday morning.

Painter has served as the Community Engagement Coordinator with the Florida Orchestra for two years. Part of that role is to teach violin lessons through TFO's partnership with the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program.

One of her favorite pupils is now hundreds of miles away.

“She’s a very shy child. She keeps to herself. But, when she started the violin, we noticed she had a talent for it,” Painter said of 11-year-old Alanis Trejo.

Trejo and her family left Tampa a month ago to travel to Zacatecas, Mexico. Trejo’s grandmother was ailing. When the child missed two violin lessons in a row, that caught Painter’s attention.

“It’s not like her,” she said.

The student and teacher figured out a lesson schedule and a wonderful opportunity arose. Trejo was able to continue her lessons virtually and have the added blessing of playing in front of her grandmother.

“First and second finger are not social distancing,” Painter joked as she coached Alanis through Minuet 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach. “I know you’re practicing all the time.”

Alanis loves the Beatles. Her favorite Beatles song is “Hey Jude." She sent a video of her playing “Yesterday” in Mexico to Painter this week. Her goal is to learn songs by one of her favorite bands, Queen.

She and her family plan to remain in Mexico for another month.

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