Danielle Victoria knows the power of music, having played piano since she was only 5 years old and having a strong passion for the art form. The 17-year-old Scottsdale resident founded the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation in March 2015 to help provide music education to Arizona’s underprivileged students, by working with local arts and educational organizations to offer needs-based scholarships for music education.
Victoria talked about why she felt helping kids through music education in Arizona is important, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.
What brought you to Arizona?
After living in New York, my parents decided to relocate to Arizona in 2007.
I was born in Malaysia and switched between London, Hong Kong, and Malaysia for my first seven years due to my parents’ work. My family then moved to New York and lived there for two years before moving here to Arizona. This is our eighth year here, and I currently attend Desert Mountain High School as a senior and International Baccalaureate student.
What’s your earliest memory of being interested in music?
Music has always been a part of my life, and for as far back as I can remember my family has shared a special bond through music. My parents introduced me to a lot of their music from the ʾ70s and ʾ80s, and my father is a huge fan of Broadway musicals, which has influenced a lot of my taste.
Do you play any other musical instruments?
I learned how to play the guitar about three years ago, and I have always loved singing.
Why are you passionate about piano?
I had the privilege to begin training as a classical pianist at the age of 5, and with every piece I play, I feel more connected to music. I love to play a lot of classical music, including Debussy and Beethoven.
What prompted you to form the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation?
The idea of the foundation started after I had completed recording a few classical piano renditions for a school project. I realized I had an opportunity to give back to the Arizona community I had grown to love.
I wanted to share the magic of music with children who are without the opportunity of music education, due to financial concerns or the lack of an arts program at their school.
How did you find your board members, and what do you look for in a board member?
We approached individuals and mentors whom we have gotten to know and have connectivity to both music and bringing music to others.
I look for individuals who provide feedback, both good and bad, help us to think outside the box, and help us to open doors.
What contributions have you made since the foundation formed?
We had the great pleasure of funding seven scholarships for Valley children to attend the Musical Instrument Museum’s summer camp this past June and are working closely with the MIM on a few exciting projects for this fall, including continuing our partnership with the MIM for its artist residency program.
Our partnership with Valley Youth Theatre is still in its early stages, but we are working with them on supporting their various music and performing arts education programs. We joined forces with VYT to support the theatre’s 16th annual fundraiser, VYTal Affair, this past August. Proceeds from the VYTal Affair support another season of productions at VYT that help young people achieve their full potential through meaningful engagement, educational programs and excellence in the performing arts. Additionally, funds raised at the event will support education programs that help Title 1 school children, such as the theater’s Literacy and the Arts program. We also will be working together with VYT during its Cabaret Concert Series.
Through these and future partnerships with local organizations and corporate partners, the foundation will be able to support even more children in Arizona. We have several future partnerships in the works and are always looking for ways we can give the gift of music to the community.
What’s your typical week like working on the foundation?
Each week, we focus on our marketing, operations and strategy. With marketing, we create visibility for the foundation, operations is working with our partners, and strategy is thinking about the directions of the foundation with our team.
Our hopes are to support music education through donations and the sales of my music, as well as through partnerships with local arts and educational organizations and strategic corporate partners. Through these donations and partnerships, we will be offering need-based scholarships to underprivileged students in Arizona to support the study of music with qualified music teachers.
If the foundation is able to change just one child’s life, it will all be worth it.
What are your personal goals?
I hope to change lives through the foundation in the Phoenix area, and eventually in larger communities. I would love to expand the foundation and its role beyond Arizona.
I’d like to go to college and graduate and pursue something science-related, because I have a lot of interest in that, but I do plan on pursuing music, too.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Pursue your love of music, and love what you’re doing.
Why would you encourage kids to give music performance a try?
If someone has an interest and passion for music, I would fully support their pursuit. I have been supported in my years of music and would only wish the same kind of rapport to others who share a lifelong love for music.
What advice do you have for those who want to start their own nonprofit?
Starting a foundation is not a simple task, but it is incredibly fulfilling if you can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.