WATCH: Gaelynn Lea has been playing the violin since she was ten-years-old. Now, 23 years later she is currently touring the country, singing and performing violin.
Gaelynn was born with brittle bones disease, which is a congenital disability that involves weak bones that break more often. The violinist expressed that she has broken about 16 bones since she was born.
Lea has adapted her technique and form so she would be able to play, she holds the violin like a cello and holds the bow like a bass player, but she plays violin music.
"The way I feel performing on stage is sort of unlike anything else in my regular life. there is a lot of energy that comes flowing through your body almost out into the audience it's a little bit hard to explain, its the time I feel most centered and the most alive I guess, I really really enjoy performing," Gaelynn said.
Lea exclaimed she fell in love with the violin in fourth grade after her school's orchestra performance. The next year she joined her school orchestra and was lucky enough to study with a teacher who helped change the way she played. She taught her to hold the violin "up and down like a cello rather than holding it the normal way on your chin." She articulated that she connects with both the cello and the violin because of the way she holds the instrument.
The violinist and singer began performing in 2006 with a duo called Gable and Gaelynn in her hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. While she said she didn't consider herself a singer at first, she sang some harmony while she was apart of Gable and Gaelynn. It wasn't until a band member convinced her to sing melodies which led her to write her first original song in 2011. Since then, she has been writing music and singing her own pieces.
"To me, music is one of the most enjoyable things that I do. I know that it helps with emotions like if you're feeling anxious or if you're in a bad mood and you play music, you always feel better at the end." Many of the challenges Gaelynn said she faced were from society, not having accommodations for people with disabilities, rather than the fact that she couldn't walk.
"I wanted to play the cello originally and that didn't work so I think sometimes if you have a disability it means you have to be a little more creative about how you play or what instrument you play, but I do think there's usually a way," Gaelynn stated.
When this musician isn't performing or on tour, she also speaks about disability awareness talking about the different barriers that still exist among people with disabilities.
She also speaks about disability pride.
Gaelynn won NPR Music's Tiny Desk contest in 2016 and since then she has been touring nationally in the past year.