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How musical talent helped one kid overcome bullying


Daniel Jiang  at Maison Symphonique in Montreal. Photo courtesy of Daniel Jiang 

By Stelios Pappas [2]

BELLEVILLE – Daniel Jiang used to be a victim of bullying, but he used musical talent to prove himself to his aggressors and is now a professional violinist.

Jiang, 21, was born in China, and his family came to Canada in 2007, settling in Scarborough. “I was 11 years old. I didn’t know any English. In fact, I didn’t know anyone,” Jiang said.

Jiang was enrolled in an English-as-a-second-language program at Pleasant View Junior High [3] in Scarborough. Both his parents were music professors in China. ButJiang didn’t pick up an instrument until he started being bullied by other kids at school.

“I started taking violin lessons in Grade 8 (as) a means to prove that I’m good at something – to not get bullied. For two years I was bullied for not being able to speak English well. Eventually I went from the ‘f***ing ESL’ kid to ‘Daniel, the guy that plays violin decent,’ ” he said.

He continued violin lessons and was looking to improve his skills even further. While he had stopped being directly harassed, he said, he wanted to prove he had more to offer. To him that meant going to a musically advanced school.

“Basically in Grade 9, a friend of mine introduced me to the Claude Watson music program [4] at Earl Haig [5],” a high school in Scarborough. “I auditioned and got in, and since then decided to do music professionally.”

The Claude Watson arts program at Earl Haig school is an enriched program for students with interests and talents in dance, drama and music. Students must audition to get into the course.

Jiang continued to advance, picking up steam in the music community. Soon he was playing around Ontario and, as he puts it, played his heart out.

“I performed for Kiwanis [6] and Ontario music festivals, playing in a string quartet. I had played in Toronto, Peterborough, Kingston and Montreal,” he said.

It was important for him to continue doing something he loved, and that meant to continuously expand his musical ambition, he said. Currently Jiang is working toward his master’s degree in musical performance at McGill University [7] in Montreal.

 “After hearing my story, I hope other people that have been in my position learn what makes them special. No one can take that away from you,” Jiang said.
Here is a recent video of Jiang playing: