January 9, 2020
A 9-year-old girl can now play the violin by herself thanks to the kindness of a classmate’s father.
Credit: Amber Shepard for The Independent
Valerie Romero is a fourth-grader at St. Johns Middle School in Arizona. She was born with only one hand so she had trouble playing the violin on her own like the rest of her classmates.
Recently, Nate Kellogg’s children came home from school and told him about Romero and how she needed help holding her violin and bow at the same time. During class, she could only practice the fingering of the notes, but could not play along like everyone else.
Kellogg, a mechanic, knew he had to find a way to help.
He began to look at his various tools at work and asked his coworkers for help on the project.
“I got to talking to the guys at work, and there is an instrument holder that would work perfect. It was already made and something you could buy online,” Kellogg said.
The next step would be to create a working prosthesis based around the instrument holder.
“I did some research online and figured out what to do, but I didn’t have the tools to do what [prosthesis makers] do. So, I did the next best thing. When I was in the military, there was this stuff called thermoplastic and that would mold to her arm.”
Thermoplastic is a type of plastic material that becomes flexible and moldable in very hot water, and it hardens into shape as it cools back to room temperature.
As Romero grows, the prosthetic will need to be updated, but for now, it’s working perfectly.
She has excelled at playing the violin and even played alongside her classmates for the holiday concert.
“I just think this is amazing,” Romero’s orchestra teacher Ruthie Price told the Independent. “For this little girl, it’s really something.”
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