It’s said that music is a universal language that all can share.

Music allows people to express emotions and thoughts they might not otherwise be able to convey.

A local mother and son duo are using the music they play to communicate with the world around them.

Ellie Ando and her son, Shosei Ando, were born in Japan and moved to Seymour last year. As such, English is their second language.

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But the pair have found an effective way to communicate with others and with themselves — music, specifically the violin.

“I have experience with other performers,” Ellie Ando said through her friend and interpreter, Madoka Nakamura. “Since it’s my son, I can communicate through melody with him.”

Ellie Ando has performed in Japan, China and the England International Goodwill Concert in London as young as age 11. Recently, she has been performing with other groups and teaching music theory to private students planning to attend college.

“I remember watching her play (when I was little), and I thought it looked easy,” Shosei said through Nakamura. “I went to her performances, and I started playing; but I knew that I wanted to play on stage, too.”

Shosei also has performed on stage, taking the silver medal at an event sponsored by Chunichi Shimbun, a large newspaper in Japan.

Since moving to Seymour, Shosei has become a member of Seymour High School band under the direction of Kevin Cottrill.

With encouragement from Cottrill, Shosei auditioned and was selected as a member of the New World Youth Orchestra of Indianapolis in June and became a member of the 2015-16 symphony orchestra as the first violinist and assistant concert master as only a sophomore in high school.

The New World Youth Symphony Orchestra is a 74-member fully instrumented orchestra with members ranging in age from 12 to 18.

Shosei’s mother said she is happy to see him develop the skill and learn more since coming to America because he almost quit.

“The type of music we play here is more enjoyable than Japan,” Shosei said.

Shosei believes the enjoyment he found at Seymour High School is the feeling of having so many come together.

“I like solo, but there are so many (people) that the harmony makes me feel happy,” he said. “The accomplishment is when pieces come together. That’s when the music is great.”

The opportunities to play with others have multiplied thanks to his acceptance to the New World Youth Orchestra of Indianapolis, with which he plays weekly.

Through encouragement from teachers, such as Cottrill and Adam Bodony with the New World Youth Orchestra, Shosei is preparing for a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York in April.

Ellie Ando shares her son’s enthusiasm for communicating through music.

“Through music, everyone there can feel the feeling of unity and share the moment,” she said.

Ellie Ando began playing violin when she was 5 after a teacher suggested she change from piano to violin because of the size of her hands. By 11, she was performing at numerous events and formal concerts and on television and radio.

Shosei also began violin lessons at 5. Both he and his mother say he struggled a bit, and Shosei cites his lack of interest in the styles of music available as the reason.

But when he arrived in America, he said, it changed.

“His tone (in music) has changed, and I love it now,” Ellie Ando said.

While the teen enjoys playing classical instrumental pieces, he said he prefers bands like One Direction and singer Taylor Swift for listening over classical.

As of now, Shosei said, he is unsure what he wants to do in the future. But he plans to continue with his musical training and is thankful for the support and encouragement from his friends, teachers and family.

Pull Quote

“I like solo, but there are so many (people) that the harmony makes me feel happy. The accomplishment is when pieces come together. That’s when the music is great.”

Violinist Shosei Ando of Seymour

Author photo
Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.