An 11-year-old Nelson County girl with Down syndrome is wowing music instructors and audiences with her skills on a traditional instrument - the harp. But the story behind her talent is even more inspiring.
Sage Ebelherr played her harp in front of a hundred people Sunday and it's been a long journey to this concert.
By a stroke of serendipity, a professional harpist moved in down the street from Sage five years ago. After studying with this patient teacher, Sage took the stage all by herself Sunday - against the odds.
If you watch Ebelherr listen to music, you can tell it runs through her spirit. And as she takes the stage, you feel her passion.
"I just think it's wonderful to watch your child love something so much and have it in her," said Robyn Ebelherr, Sage's mother.
Sage played two songs at the Wednesday music club young musicians' recital on Sunday afternoon.
I played "Dona Nobis" and I played "Brother John"," Sage said.
The path to this concert has taken five years of practice and patience.
"Dexterity, fine motor skills tend to be something that children with Down syndrome have difficulty with at times," Robyn said. "Just the coordination it would take for using two hands, learning the different strings, plucking and reading notes at the same time."
Sage's teacher - Virginia Schweninger - watched with tears gleaming in her eyes as her student played all by herself.
"I was watching her fingers and appreciating that her thumbs were high and her tone was good, her rhythm was spot on," Schweninger said.
Sage's mother says this moment is empowering.
"She knows I don't need my mother's help, I am doing this by myself, I am reading notes, I am poised and I'm sitting up here playing a song and I'm capable," she said.
And for the audience, it's a moment of inspiration.
"We've all grown. I'm a much better teacher because of Sage," Schweninger said. She brings a smile to our face every day and to watch her up there is just a really proud time for all of us," Robyn said.
Sage's mother said she hopes her daughter's story is a reminder that being different is wonderful.
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