My Musical Journey

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Funding My Education and Artistic Development
A serious young musician requires a prodigious financial investment, one that is typically assisted or even covered completely by parents. Due to my family’s financial circumstances (not lack of support!), I have been tasked with raising virtually all of my own money for my entire musical education since the age of 12. Each fundraising goal led to an inspiring musical experience which helped me improve my musicianship. This page describes some highlights of this unique aspect of my history over the years.

I am very honored to have interacted with the Portland community so intimately and for so many years through busking (street performing). Busking played a large role in helping me to understand the importance of the role of human connection as an artist, and of giving back to the community. There is no question that I would be nowhere near where I am today were it not for the extreme generosity of the people of Portland. Over the years I have raised a total of over $60,000 for my music opportunities through all of my combined endeavors. While my need to raise large sums of money from a young age has been exhausting, it has also given me the resourcefulness, determination, and entrepreneurial skills necessary for a career in music.

Byron BuskingI began my fundraising adventure during the summer of 2010 by busking (the fancy name for street performing). I had heard of the idea from a friend who had tried it. I remember my first busking day vividly. I went to Ben and Jerry’s on Hawthorne Avenue and set down the sign I had made, my tip jar, and my stand on the sidewalk. I was so nervous, it took me over half an hour to open my violin case and play my first note! My goal was to raise $1,000 to attend the Portland Summer Ensembles and the Chamber Music Camp of Portland. Over the summer I busked at least once a week and became amazed at the success of this medium of fundraising. I met my goal and was able to attend both of these summer music programs. However, I realized that my playing on the streets was really my gift to the community, whether people donated to my cause or simply paused to enjoy my music. This has remained my busking philosophy over the years.
Byron BuskingThe next year when I was 13, I was invited to travel with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony on their 2011 Concert Tour to Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. My fundraising goal increased dramatically to $4,000. I ended up raising almost this entire goal through busking. I quickly came to realize that the most productive busking spot in Portland was the Saturday Market downtown. I got to know the other buskers well and I thoroughly annoyed the nearby vendors once or twice by my repeated renditions of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik! I was interviewed for a feature in the Oregonian that can be found linked here.
Byron BuskingThe following summer I was accepted to the Meadowmount School of Music, an illustrious 7 – week intensive summer music program in upstate New York. I had to raise over $7,000 in order to cover all the expenses for the trip. I realized that I would not be able to raise the funds through busking alone. I supplemented my busking by applying to local scholarship competitions and creating a fundraising website, “,” which now redirects to this page. I also organized and performed a fundraising recital. Through these combined efforts, I was once again able to meet my goal and study at Meadowmount.
Byron BuskingMy teacher at Meadowmount recommended that I find a nationally renowned teacher to study with during the academic year to supplement my studies in Portland, and Professor Paul Kantor of Rice University agreed to teach me on a bi-monthly basis. My fundraising goal over the next few years exceeded $10,000 per year. In addition to attending Meadowmount in the summers, I now needed to cover flights down to Houston every couple months to study with Professor Kantor. My fundraising was now a year-round effort, and I began to realize that busking was limited to Summer months. Busking is an outdoor activity, and it is very dangerous to expose the violin to the cold of the late Fall and Winter months, not to mention freezing fingers! I kept applying to scholarship competitions, performing small fundraising house concerts and maintaining my website. I was able to study with Professor Kantor over a period of two years, and I returned to Meadowmount for the summers of 2013 and 2014.
Busking In PortlandI was accepted to study with Professor Almita Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy for the Fall of 2015, where I studied for two years. I conducted my largest fundraising campaign to cover the finances I needed to move to Chicago. My first year at the school I was very fortunate to receive a named scholarship sponsored by the Sage Foundation. In order to raise the rest, I continued busking around Portland, performing in House Concerts, and applying to scholarship competitions. I created a YouCaring site (online fundraising platform), and some very generous individual donations were key to me meeting my fundraising goals. By 2016, I had largely stopped busking, as the monumental nature of my goals was now more conducive to other forms of fundraising such as grants, donors, and scholarships.
Byron BuskingMy fundraising efforts have enabled me to have some incredible opportunities over the years which have shaped me into the violinist I am today. All of my work came to fruition when I was accepted with accolades to every conservatory to which I had applied. I chose to accept a full-tuition Jacobs Scholar award to study with Professor Mauricio Fuks at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music for my Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance. I am very grateful to Barbara and David Jacobs who made this award possible. While I am no longer busking, my fundraising efforts continue in order to cover non-tuition expenses, with an emphasis on grants and scholarships. Please see my sponsors page for a list of my current sponsors and supporting foundations.
Giving Back to the Community
My family always taught me about the importance of giving.  But I had a personal experience at about the age of 14, which crystallized this value in my heart. One day when I was busking, two homeless men stood and watched me for a couple of songs. When I finished, they combined all of their spare change and put it into my jar. That action stunned me, and helped me to realize that generosity is a cycle and, as part of that cycle, I have an obligation to give back to the community. I was inspired to organize a benefit concert for the homeless, which turned into an annual event. In total, I have coordinated four benefit concerts, featuring members of the Oregon Symphony, Portland Youth Philharmonic, and I Ragazzi Baroque. These concerts have raised almost $7,000, all of which has been donated to nonprofit agencies in the Portland community working to empower those in poverty, including Human Solutions, PACS, JOIN, and Street Roots. More information will be posted leading up to the next benefit concert.