High Notes — The Movie
The sign on the small storefront in the tiny village of Middleburg,VA (pop. 640) reads simply “A Place to Be.” Inside, the room is largely empty except for a piano, set of drums, and assorted guitars lining the walls. But it’s rarely quiet and never dull.
From morning to night, students arrive at “A Place to Be” to sing, dance, play musical instruments, write songs… and much more. They are devoted to their teacher, Tom Sweitzer, a music therapist with boundless talent and energy. Tom is passionate about music’s ability to transform lives in real and miraculous ways. On a daily basis, Tom witnesses the remarkable changes in his young students who are dealing with some of life’s greatest challenges.
There’s Forrest, who at age 18, suffered a life threatening traumatic brain injury in a snowboarding accident that left him trapped inside himself unable to speak, communicating only with the blink of his eyes. For two years, Tom had music therapy sessions with Forrest several times a week. Then, one day Forrest started to hum… then sing… and finally find his voice to start speaking again.
Amy, a high school senior, has cerebral palsy — a result of her premature birth. Smart, funny, and articulate, Amy writes songs about navigating the chaotic halls of her high school in a wheelchair and her crush on the captain of the football team. She longs to dance, walk on her own two feet, and educate the world about people with disabilities.
Brendan, age 11, and Cameron, age 9, are brothers — and both born blind. They’re also musical whizzes with perfect pitch. Their unselfconscious joy is contagious as they experience and “see” the world through music.
Crystal, age 15, describes her self as “creative and misunderstood.” She sings with all her heart, writes imaginative stories, and draws pictures of dragons — as she tries to cope with the rage she feels inside from being constantly bullied and taunted at school.
This film interweaves the stories of these young students. We experience their triumphs, as well as their hard times, and sometimes devastating setbacks. Their love of life is infectious and inspiring. Their challenges quickly recede into thebackground. It’s their passion, determination and unstoppable spirit that shine most brightly as they discover their voices, and rebuild and transform their lives through the power of music.