Rochester, N.Y. - In all the years Tara Fayazi has played the tuba, she’s never had one to call her own. She would always have to borrow tubas that belonged to schools.
“With having to pay for school and being a college student, I don't have money for that,” she said.
A good, quality tuba can cost around $13,000.
Tara is studying music education at the Eastman School of Music. She is also a performance major. She feared that without her own tuba, she would have limited opportunities to perform outside of her school.
That’s when Tara’s friends decided to do something to help.
“It all started 11 months ago when Tara came to my room,” explained Tara’s friend, Jackie Dreher. “She had this dream that she had her own tuba and it had a beautiful sound. She was just crying in my room. It’s just something that’s so important and she couldn't do anything about it.”
Jackie and some of Tara’s other friends organized a Facebook group to try and raise money to purchase a tuba for Tara. Eventually, 400 people had joined the group and supported the cause.
Tara’s classmates and professors held fundraising recitals and collected thousands of dollars over an 11 month period. Meanwhile, Tara never suspected a thing.
On Monday night, Tara performed a tuba solo during a holiday concert. The concert was organized with the sole purpose of surprising Tara with her new tuba. Hundreds of people gathered to watch the surprise.
Thirty minutes into the concert, Tara’s conductor and professor, Don Harry, stopped her during the middle of her solo.
“He goes and fiddles with my horn and says, ‘This is weird’. Then he says, ‘Does anyone have a screwdriver?’ and that was [Jackie’s] cue to come out.”
With thunderous applause, Jackie came out holding a tuba wrapped in a bow.
“I was just stunned,” Tara said. “I immediately bust into tears. There aren't enough words to describe the pure happiness I felt. It's just unreal.”
Tara’s new tuba was special not only because of the surprise but because it once belonged to her friend.
Last year, Brett Miller, an Eastman School of Music student, passed away after battling aplastic anemia, a blood disorder where the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough new blood cells.
His family heard about the Eastman students efforts to get Tara a tuba and offered to sell them their son’s. The family donated a portion of the cost of the tuba. The money Tara’s friends raised will be donated to help families whose loved ones suffer from aplastic anemia.
“I'm just glad that I got to meet [Brett] and spend some time with him,” Tara said. “Now I get to use his tuba. It's very emotional. We just made so many memories between baking cookies for a tuba recital and him driving me home for Thanksgiving break. Brett was such a special person.”
Meanwhile her friends and professors say they are happy for Tara and they can’t think of a more deserving person to get such a special gift.