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June 16, 2006

Seeing Through Music

From:, CA - Jun 16, 2006

By Denise Dador

June 16, 2006 - Teachers call 9-year-old Kodi Lee a musical savant. He doesn't read notes because he can't see. He's blind.

Lee learns how to sing and play from listening. Teacher Marion Mike-Coury discovered this hidden talent in a few young students when she started teaching music at the Blind Children's Learning Center in Santa Ana.

Recently, after Lee sang the "Star Spangled Banner," five-year-old Christopher Jackson, who'd never heard it before, got up and sang it from memory.

He wasn't singing the words, he caught that melody and he was really walloping it out," Mike-Coury said.

Seung Lee is blind and deaf, but with the aid of a cochlear implant he's able to keep a beat.

Volunteers and donations keep the center's makeshift program afloat, but the school needs a musical therapist and instruments. Administrators are determined to get the funds because of what they've seen in students like Natalia Sigele. She was born with the genetic defect trisomy 13.

"She hums about five tunes right now ... they told her she'd never walk or talk," Thereseann Sigele, Natalia's mother, said.

The music program is only about six months old, but teachers say it's bringing out the best in their kids. They've noticed better behavior and say the kids are more attentive in class and their language and communication skills have improved.

The kids are motivated by sound and music to be the best that they can be.

©2006 ABC Inc., KABC-TV Los Angeles.