New Gospel Choir Director Counters Adveristy with Music

Daniel Kopf

Melodious sounds resonated through the corridor, the sounds emanating from a small dimly lit room tucked away in Marist Colleges Music department. In the room stood 16 members huddled around a piano singing loudly with emotion and conviction. At the center of the music was David Burns, Marist Colleges Gospel Choir director.

“Music has been a part of my life since I was two years old,” Burns said. “My Parents told me I liked music and I’ve been playing the piano ever since.”

David came to Marist College after hearing about the job from a friend. Choir Director Sarah Williams realized something special about David right away. “When David first came to Marist I threw him in to teach Chamber Choir and told him to make it better. He put a lot of meaning into the song.”

Religion is also an integral part of David’s life and incorporates it in his work every day.

“After every rehearsal we pray, making us aware that we are not just singing a song but that each song has its own meaning,” said Gospel Choir member Aforme Agawu-Kakraba

Music has always been a part of David‘s life but there was a time when it looked like he would never play the piano again.

Early in college David was diagnosed with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. According to “Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain, tingling, and numbness in your hand from pressure on the median nerve in your wrist.”

“Sometimes the pain was so bad I couldn’t feed myself,” David said.

The pain finally caught up with David and he was faced with a choice. “I had to either undergo surgery or end my piano career,” David said.

The choice was easy for David choosing the risky surgery despite the chance that it would not ease his pain.

The surgery was a success but the victory was without its negatives. “I had to relearn how to play the piano after years of dedication and commitment.” David relearned playing the piano using the Russian technique, a technique used to minimize strain on the wrists.

David is now at full strength and has not felt pain since the surgery. Despite the setback David did not let the possibility of never playing again get in the way of Music.

“Music is my passion. I love teaching and sharing with students, you also learn as well,” David said.


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