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Blind music instructor inspires children in week-long Jazz camp

Students in this intensive music camp will show what they have learned this week in a concert at 7 on Friday at the Straz Center
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Posted at 5:54 AM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 07:25:54-04

TAMPA, Fla. — For Matt Weihmuller, being blind has never stopped him from pursuing his love of music.

“I was born this way with an eye disease, but I think it gives me a unique perspective, like, one of the things that I do that a lot of teachers will do is they’ll turn the lights off on students so they can practice in the dark,” said Matt Weihmuller, a Jazz musician and instructor.

Weihmuller is from Tampa. He's a professional saxophonist with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in music and has been teaching Jazz music for 10 years to people of different abilities.

“I’ve taught some students who are visually impaired and it kind of gives me a very unique perspective,” said Weihmuller.

He even translates music into Braille.

“It’s very interesting when I show the Braille to the students. You know, they’re very fascinated by it,” said Weihmuller.

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For Weihmuller, he just wants to spread his love for music to as many people as possible, while also changing the narrative around what people with visual impairments can do.

“To just try to, you know, show people that people with visual impairments are like anyone else,” Weihmuller.

“I decided on my own, well, I’m around it all the time. I like Classical music and stuff. So, I’ll just learn it,” said Zion Phoenix, a student of Matt Weihmuller.

Phoenix has been around music most of his life. In fact, he started playing the piano when was just 10 years old but he said, “Jazz is kind of a recent endeavor for me."

He said he plays the piano alone most of the time, but it's different to play in a group setting with his peers.

“It’s like everyone’s feeding off of each other. Yeah, it’s just really great,” said Phoenix.

Phoenix and about nine other students are learning how to play Jazz this week in an intensive music camp at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center.

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“Being able to play with a full group for this amount of time is really great,” said Cole Wheeler.

Wheeler is a drummer. He said Weihmuller inspires him to be a better player.

“A lot of what he has to do has to be more intuitive. So, him giving that to us helps us communicate both non-verbally and without visual cues,” said Wheeler.

The students in this intensive music camp will show what they have learned this week in a concert at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Straz Center.

If you’re interested in attending the concert, click here.