Max Amend, San Jose, California

“Someone mentioned to me recently that music is a universal language and that really resonated with me. I take Spanish at my school, so I know what it means to study a language. I also know what it means to comprehend the technicalities of the musical language. Music is beyond the technicalities though; when you learn Spanish, you can only speak to other people who know Spanish, but with music, you don’t really need to have the education side of it to benefit from it. Anyone can benefit from it.

I’ve been raised with the belief that giving back is equally, if not more, important than receiving. I am grateful for my parents who have supported my musical journey and have supplied me with lessons in the piano, violin, and viola. My parents let me learn three instruments, and I think it’s important to use it more than playing in a recital three times a year. Music has taught me to be a servant leader by sharing my gift of music with the world, and it has given me a reason to encourage others to impact the lives of others with their music. 

“My parents let me learn three instruments, and I think it’s important to use it more than playing in a recital three times a year.”

I’ve always been involved in the music department at my school, Bellarmine College Prep: I stand as the Principal Violist and head up service and outreach on the music department’s leadership committee, so I organize performances at different organizations for all of the music groups.

When quarantine hit, I had a bunch of extra time, so I decided it was best to step it up as a runner. When I was on one of my runs, I passed by an assisted living facility, and I saw the activity director walking in for the day with a mask on. I got home that Tuesday, and thought, “What can I do for them?” I had live concerts for numerous organizations that I had to cancel because of COVID-19, but I still wanted to still connect with them through music. I came up with the idea of creating virtual concerts for isolated and lonely individuals during the pandemic. I started with contacting the 20 kids from the music program that were involved with service performance. Then, I went through my school’s coordinator to plan another virtual concert, and even more people got involved  — even teachers and people not in the music program. It was supposed to be one concert, but then it became a concert series because so many people had responded. I built it in a place of discomfort because I had to step it up as a leader. I had to make all of these phone calls to organizations, and I had no video editing skills before, but I was driven to make a difference. 

As of now, I don’t have plans to be a professional musician, but music will continue to be one of my ways of connecting with others. One of my favorite things to do is a Christmas concert that my two brothers and I do for my parents and my grandparents. We all play the piano and violin, and so after every Christmas Eve dinner, we all sit down and play duets and trios. My grandma is a retired piano teacher, and my dad is a pianist, so I guess music has been a part of my entire life. I like that community. It’s my family — my smallest community of musicians. Recently, my brother Alex and I have been using our violin skills in the virtual concerts. He got into composing and together we work through his creations. Music has been one way the two of us have been able to deepen our relationship as brothers as well as serve others through the virtual concerts. That’s the kind of stuff that I’ll continue doing as it brings me joy to build connections through music.”

— Max Amend, San Jose, California


Art of the Heart provides young musicians with a space to showcase their talents while bringing the joy and comfort of music to senior citizens, the developmentally challenged, pediatric patients, and low-income adults. Learn more about Art of the Heart here.

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