A sixth grade student with cerebral palsy has been given a boost in band with a custom-made clarinet thanks to his band director and instrument makers and distributers Conn-Selmer.

ClarinetClarinettist Paul Ebihara. Photo © WGN9

Paul Ebihara, who goes to school at Glen Westlake Middle School in Illinois, was finding covering the holes on a conventional clarinet challenging, according to a report by Chicago’s WGN9.

“My fingers didn’t cover the holes all the way,” said Ebihara, who also plays piano and cello. “It squeaks.”

“He has a lot of trouble with fine motor things,” Lenelle Vitale, occupational therapist, said.  “And decreased strength and endurance.”

So Ebihara’s band director, Julie Syperek, went in search of a solution, contacting Indiana company Conn-Selmer, who made a custom ‘plateau’ instrument for Ebihara, which uses pads to aid in closing some of the holes. In place of the unique serial number engraved in each clarinet, the company simply engraved “Paul”.

The new clarinet made a remarkable difference to Ebihara’s confidence. “After he received the clarinet, it’s like he had a new spring in his step,” Syperek said.

“I think there’s always hope, you know, you don’t give up and people surprise you,” Ebihara’s father Tat Ebihara said. “How generous they can be.”