Select Page

On April 18 and 19, Milton Academy welcomed musicians Molly Joyce and Gaelyn Lea as this year’s Melissa Dilworth Gold ’61 Fund visiting artists. The two musicians met with Milton Academy’s orchestra to discuss the intersection of music and disability.

Gaelyn Lea, a singer, violinist, composer, and advocate with brittle bone disease, opened the class with a piece of fiddle music, much to the delight of the orchestra. She then shared about her life experiences as a musician. During her youth in Minnesota Public Schools, she struggled to find a way to express herself musically. Ms. Lea spoke about the importance of sharing one’s voice through music and stories, and she encouraged students to write and compose authentically. She then talked about advocacy in music and including disability in the conversations about diversity.

“Think creatively about the way you use language; your choice of words can make an audience think more deeply about the human experience.” —Gaelyn Lea

Composer and musician Molly Joyce then shared about her life. Unable to use her left hand after a childhood car accident, Ms. Joyce discussed her journey to find the right instrument for her body. Her attempts to play the cello and the trumpet as a child were unsuccessful because her instruments were not designed specifically for her. While attending Julliard for composition, she learned to embrace her identity of disability and started performing again when she discovered the toy organ, which was a much better fit for her limbs. After a few years, she began writing compositions for this instrument and her voice, all while incorporating other instruments that leverage technology to create new musical sounds. Ms. Joyce composes her work with accessibility in mind, including multimedia tools and captioning for her performances.

Milton’s orchestra students engaged with the artists and asked curious questions about the musicians’ lives and commiserated about how hard it is to be vulnerable and bring their unique identities to the stage. They were left affirmed to be themselves and to be proud of their differences.

Ms. Lea and Ms. Joyce also spoke with local students with disabilities in Dorchester on April 17 as part of the fund’s public school partnership component. They delivered a message of hope and encouragement for the students to share their unique stories.

The Melissa Dilworth Gold ’61 Visiting Artists Fund was established in 1992 to support the arts departments by bringing nationally recognized artists to the campus each year. Dynamic interactions with inspirational and accomplished professionals help Milton continue to nurture bright minds, creative spirits, and critical thinkers. Thank you to our donors for enabling opportunities for students to explore their passions.