A central Toledo teen is learning to connect with people from various cultures through music while taking a new approach to her education.
Lydia Napier, 16, recently enrolled as a 10th grader in the Ohio Virtual Academy, a full-time online public charter school for kindergarten through 12th grade. While it’s different from going to a physical school, Miss Napier said the virtual academy has the demands of a regular school.
“You still go to classes, you still have to be on time, you still have to have relationships with your teachers and other students,” she said.
Lydia Napier says the cello has a rich history as well as a beautiful sound. ‘It’s been around for so long, I can almost connect with other people through history,’ she says.
When she attends class online, Miss Napier’s teachers can live-stream a slide show while making notations on the screen or have a discussion.
“Lydia is a talented, intelligent girl. I like the way the virtual academy fits in her life,” said Larry Napier, her father.
While she’s only been in the academy for less than one term, Miss Napier said it’s going well. It has also allowed her to focus on music.
Miss Napier plays the cello and has been involved for the past four years with the Toledo International Youth Orchestra, a group seeking to “bridge cultures through music.” The orchestra comprises those between the ages of 12 to 21 from throughout northwest Ohio.
Every year, orchestra members travel globally, connecting with other youth orchestras and performing for audiences in other countries. Additionally, the group performs locally at various events.
“One of the best features of my daughter is she’s very creative, and she has been since she was a young child,” said Miss Napier’s mother, Melissa Napier.
Last summer, Miss Napier traveled with the orchestra to Ecuador, where she played with the country’s “elite” musicians, the teen said.
Lydia Napier has been playing the cello with the Toledo International Youth Orchestra for four years . Miss Napier is in 10th grade at the Ohio Virtual Academy, and she says the demands are the same as they are at brick-and-mortar schools.
Miss Napier’s stand partner was a woman in her 30s who spoke fluent Spanish. While the high schooler doesn’t speak the language, the pair could understand each other through music.
“Whenever we had to communicate, we just kept on speaking in either English or Spanish. Somehow we understood each other,” Lydia said. “To be able to point to the music and be able to look at each other and play it on the cello and figure it out, it was such a cool experience.”
The youth orchestra is scheduled to visit Ireland this summer. It has traveled to Cuba, Canada, China, Poland, and Germany.
Donations are accepted to help students pay for their trips abroad on the orchestra’s website at tiyo.us.
The orchestra’s annual spring concert is scheduled for May 20 at the Monroe Street United Methodist Church, 3613 Monroe St.
Miss Napier has played the cello for five years.
“I think it had something to do with one of my friends playing the cello, and me thinking it was cool,” she said. ”So I kind of got involved with it that way. Of course, I had to choose one of the biggest instruments.”
Musical talent runs through Miss Napier’s family. Her mother played in an orchestra as a youth, and her father likes to sing and play the trombone, Miss Napier said. Her brother, meanwhile, has become involved with creative writing.
“My family, growing up, definitely brought the arts into my life,” she said.
The cello’s history is something to admire, Miss Napier said.
“It’s got such a rich, beautiful sound to it, and it’s something that, it’s been around for so long, I can almost connect with other people through history,” she said.
Miss Napier typically practices about an hour or two a day, and the youth orchestra usually rehearses on Tuesdays during the school year.
She also knows how to play the piano, and is taking up the ukulele, guitar, and bass.
She recently joined a five-piece band called Woodpecker’s Pass and will be performing at gigs around Toledo.
Miss Napier, who works as a prep cook at Manhattan’s and likes cooking pasta at home, said she’d like to attend culinary school in the future.
“I see her possibly going to culinary school, and I see her staying involved in music throughout her life. Whatever path that takes her on, I know she will be successful,” her mother said.
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