I had known Jacob Taurins from years past when we both raised our voices in a gospel choir. He was in a wheelchair and sang with real passion. Now I am visiting him in hospital to discover more about his love for composing his own music.
I've always been interested in music, says Jacob. His voice is soft but brimming with personality. At the age of seven he conceived his first pieces for violin. He later learnt piano and set out on a course of commerce, music history and linguistics. However, he was about to hit some rough water.
At the age of 20, Jacob was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In contrast to some people, Jacob knew what MS was. He found it confronting to personally discover the condition at an age when people are usually making career choices and connecting with new friends.
A lot of people have very fond memories of their twenties, whereas mine involved a lot of hospitals. Naturally such an experience left him with some resentment, but he came to know who his real friends were.
Study and performance
He received free piano lessons from piano teacher Keith Fields and grooved with a number of jazz and rock groups. His activity notched up in pitch when he completed a Bachelor in Music at La Trobe University.
He now hopes to enter Melbourne University's Master of Music, Composition stream. He has penned a string quartet called The Imposing Infant. In 2011 it was performed by the Silo Quarter at an Essendon Rotary concert. The music was influenced by Bach, jazz and African drumming.
I was very happy and it was well received by the audience, he says.
Jacob uses the computer with a mouse designed to assist those with a physical disability. He believes a musical pursuit requires persistence and determination.
His understanding of music was helped by writing compositions.
If something works you do it again and if it doesn't work you try and avoid it.
People may be sceptical of composers, especially of those who have a disability.
I think it increases scepticism more because they don't really see it as serious.
Jacob is critical of those who might repeat themselves in music.
The music I write now is very different from what I wrote. He is uncertain of where music writing will take him in the future. But he imagines putting something together for a symphony orchestra. He speaks of writing music for special occasions.
It's just the way my coping manifests itself.
One time Jacob fell from his wheelchair and was pinned down for six hours. Trips in and out of hospital are not unusual for those with MS. In his usual positive spirit Jacob maintains he has got off more lightly than some.
When I leave the hospital our hands connect. It is a statement of his determination to press on and to tune in to new challenges.
Jacob has worked as a rotary club member to raise awareness of MS. He can be contacted at the Rotary Fellowship of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness, which is hosted at Yahoo Groups.