Shun Ng, a young guitar and voice prodigy who has earned praise from music industry legends Quincy Jones (Grammy award-winning producer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller) and Brian May (guitarist for the band Queen) will be speaking at a special assembly next Thursday, March 24, at Salem’s Collins Middle School. The gathering will include approximately 300 middle school students from four district schools.

Shun is an inspiring speaker for this age group, having struggled in elementary and middle school, unable to keep up with his classmates in math, reading, and languages, and being accused of laziness by his teachers. Halfway through elementary school, he was diagnosed with dyslexia and began to receive special services. He still barely passed each grade, continued to struggle academically, and began to pour his energy into gymnastics. It was at a gymnastics practice that an event occurred that changed his life. A fellow gymnast handed him a guitar and showed him how to play a few chords. Even in those first few moments with the guitar, Shun realized that the instrument and the sounds it created were a language that was natural and expressive for him. As he describes it, “Music filled in a lot of blank spaces for me. It helped me understand the connections I’d been missing in school, and it helped me develop an understanding of the world.”He quit the gymnastics team a few days later and devoted himself to mastering the guitar. A few years later, he received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, and began to perform in America and around the world. Last year, he won the “International Artist of the Year” at the Boston Music Awards.

Shun Ng encourages students to consider dyslexia or other unconventional learning patterns as keys to their own success, and not necessarily as disabilities. “I don’t wish I didn’t have dyslexia; it’s who I am, and it’s made it possible for me to find amazing expression in music.” Besides sharing his story, Shun Ng will perform on guitar during the assembly for the students, and will answer their questions.

While the school assembly is not open to the public, Shun Ng, along with J. Geils Band harmonica player, Magic Dick, will be performing in concert at CinemaSalem on Thursday, March 31 at 8:30 pm. Tickets for that concert are available at www.CinemaSalem.com.

School officials first heard of Shun from John Andrews of Creative Salem and Paul VanNess, co-owner of CinemaSalem, who have made the arrangements to bring Shun Ng to Salem and are producing the upcoming concert.

The daunting task of coordinating logistics among four schools for the assembly was coordinated by Carrie Francis Cabot and the Salem Educational Foundation , as well as Mindy Marino and Paul L’Heureux from Salem Public Schools.

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