Tuesday, January 27, 2009

N.Y. man with Down syndrome returns home to perform after musical world tour

From The Daily Orange at Syracuse University:

Music is his medicine: His piano gives him a dose of cognitive reason. Clarinet helps with his deficient muscles. Saxophone can improve his speech.

Sujeet Desai's instruments can't cure his disorder, which has affected his intellect, his appearance and his voice, but it has served as a remedy for what others thought impossible. Desai can play multiple instruments despite suffering from Down syndrome.

"It's a blessing to play, to bring out my musical skills, to people," Desai said. "It feels good to play my dreams (musically) for anyone who has special needs."

An advocate for the disabled, Desai will perform at Setnor Hall Jan. 28 at 7 p.m., displaying his talents in piano, clarinet, saxophone and violin. Desai returns to Syracuse, his home town, after performing internationally.

Diagnosed as a child, the disorder that limits Desai's mind did not deter him from playing music, his mother Sindoor Desai said. And from an early age, Desai was encouraged to pick up instruments as they would, as Sindoor reasoned, help stimulate her son's mind.

To play piano, Sindoor researched, allowed her son to better his ability of awareness, reason and judgement - which Down syndrome robbed from Desai. To play wind instruments, such as the clarinet or the saxophone, would help perk the deficient hypodermic muscles in Desai's face.Yet, the result was unexpected, Sindoor said.

As a child, Desai began to course through instruments, Sindoor said, learning to play the piano, the violin, the clarinet and then moving on to the next instrument that churned his interest."It started for his stimulation, and it became a way of expressing himself, his entire life, through music," Sindoor said.

With his parents, Desai has traveled to London, the Netherlands and Dubai among other countries, as well as nationally, displaying Desai's willingness to challenge adversity, according to his piano instructor, JoAnn Geller.

"He is a marvelous advocate and an inspiration for people, who have been put off as unable to do a lot of the things that Sujeet is very capable of doing," Geller said. "His talent is uncanny."

In ways, Desai performs to inspire the disabled, Geller said.