KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
JUNE 28, 2020
By Jennifer Miko
Bryant Li started playing the piano when he was six years old. Now, almost ten years later, he is a straight A student at Seven Lakes High School, an award-winning pianist, and a founding member of Music of Harmony. As a leader of this growing, non-profit youth-led organization, Bryant has helped raise money for local charities and organized performances for area seniors.
In 2016, Music of Harmony’s founding members, siblings Bryant and Audrey Li, and Grace Liu, started reaching out to family friends and neighbors, who enjoyed performing music, to encourage them to join. Word quickly spread, and now, Music of Harmony has over 800 students and hundreds of parents who volunteer with the group.
Music of Harmony gives many budding musicians in the community the opportunity to establish proper musicianship and experience performing in front of an audience.
“Students in Music of Harmony reached out to classmates and members of their schools’ bands, orchestras, and choirs, who had an incentive to join - to improve their musicianship and gain volunteer hours for school,” says Bryant Li.
Members of Music of Harmony live in the Greater Houston area. About 200 members make up the Katy branch, and range from first graders through high school seniors. The talented young people play piano, violin, viola, cello, clarinet, saxophone, and flute as well as Chinese instruments - the Guzheng and Pipa. The group also includes vocalists.
Reaching Goals with Music Music of Harmony aims to help the community through musical performances, as well as by raising money for local organizations. The Katy branch performed free winter concerts for three years before deciding to raise money for local charities. At their 2020 concert, they raised over $8,000 for Katy Christian Ministries.
“Our goal is to streamline and promote our benefit concerts so that we can increase our yearly donations to causes like Katy Christian Ministries, and possibly find more recipient charities that need financial support the most,” says Bryant.
Members of Music of Harmony serve the Katy community
Earlier this year, Music of Harmony raised $4170 to support the coronavirus victims in Wuhan, China. Between mid-March and April, they collected an additional $2800 in donations which have been merged into funds with the Chinese American Community in Houston. The funds were used to purchase masks and other PPE for senior homes and hospitals and police stations in Katy, Sugarland, Memorial and the Houston area.
Connecting Generations Through Music The founding members of Music of Harmony believed there was an inherent and deep disconnect between young people and senior citizens.
“We felt that through the act of volunteerism, talented young musicians could spread our passion for music making to others who needed it the most - why not do it through weekly concerts?” says Bryant.
“Bryant enjoys volunteering together with his team at senior homes and hospitals, and he really feels happy seeing the smile on the elderly’s face light up,” says his mother, Jenny Guo. “He has really been proud of what his team, instead of himself, has given back to the community with their loving hearts and souls.”
Music of Harmony has shared their love of music by performing at 9 different senior living facilities and one hospital in the Katy area.
“Music is thought to have a hand in fighting against neurodegenerative diseases by activating certain parts of the brain that respond to music, specifically the auditory cortices, and can slow down cell death in the substantia nigra that causes Parkinson's,” says Bryant.
In April, the Music of Harmony team made over 300 cards and Origami paper cranes to distribute to several Katy- and Houston-area senior residents facilities.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the group can no longer visit the seniors. So, the Music of Harmony team leaders decided to create videos to replace their live performances (see links below).
“We initially chose this project as the indefinite postponement of weekly Music of Harmony performances really had us longing for some other type of musical connection with our usual senior audiences - virtual performances it is!” says Bryant
Over the past three months, Music of Harmony has created their own YouTube channel, and created four videos for senior residents and hospital staff and patients to enjoy. They plan to debut their fifth video by July 4. Their repertoire includes Baroque, classical, Romantic, contemporary, and pop music.
Visit the Music of Harmony YouTube links below to see their performances:
Hard Work Pays Off
When Bryant was 11, Katy Magazine highlighted him in feature, "Prodigies of the Piano." See the full story here.
Four years later, Bryant continues to follow his passion for piano, and practices about two to three hours a day. He’s also studying for two major STEM competitions for next year, taking self-paced online classes in neuroscience, as well as summer classes through Katy ISD. He also keeps up with longtime friends and exercises daily.
“I always encourage him to use his musical talent to give back to community,” says Jenny Guo. “I will always stand behind him and encourage him.”