Silver Knight winner’s career goal: Music therapist
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Gabriel Perez plays several instruments and has used music to support impoverished classmates and to brighten the lives of elders, children and the community with his performances.
The judges of the 62nd Annual Silver Knight Awards recognized the 18-year-old’s efforts on behalf of others.
What put Perez, who graduated from Hialeah Gardens Senior High, in the spotlight was his community service, which included performing for dementia and Parkinson’s Disease patients at care facilities and therapy centers.
Perez lives in Miramar and will attend the
University of Miami. He plans to major in music therapy.
“With my degree, I hope to get board certified by the American Music Therapy Association and to get some field work as a music therapist in local hospitals, since I have yet to decide who I would like to work with,” Perez said.
He may eventually use his skills in music therapy for those in hospice care or with children, he said.
“After some field work and experience, I would love to open my own private practice,” Perez said. “This would allow me to serve my own patients, mentor young music therapists, and further advocate for this up and coming profession in my own way, with my own music therapy site.”
Perez founded his high school’s Tri-M Music
They performed songs on request for schoolmates as a way to raise money for those who could not afford to participate in the school’s music program.
The society also performed for a children’s camp; for kids at a daycare center and for a “Reading Under the Stars” event at an elementary school, according to his application for the award.
Perez plays saxophone, as well as flute, piccolo, clarinet and bass guitar.
The HGSH’s Gladiator Jazz Combo, which Perez created, raised $1,850 from regular gigs at an Italian restaurant.
The money funded a scholarship for kids who couldn’t afford to be in the band program.
Another of the combo’s goals was to raise awareness about how music can affect a person’s well-being and “spread joy,” by making it available to everyone, his application said.
The Jazz Combo recorded an album in 2019 called “Music Saves Lives: A Mental Health Project,” and the mellow collection can be heard on YouTube and streaming services.
Sales proceeds were donated to Mind & Melody, a Miami non-profit organization.
Perez volunteers with the group which uses music to stimulate memories in elders in health care facilities and at day care centers.
The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald sponsor the Silver Knight Awards and Perez was among 30 winners chosen from 700 nominees from Miami-Dade and
Perez won in the Music & Dance category; his prizes included a $2,000 scholarship from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Silver Knight statue and a 25,000 air-mile travel certificate from American Airlines.
Photo courtesy of Gabriel Perez.