Busking Riverview schoolboy uses his musical talent to help others

·3 min read
Busking Riverview schoolboy uses his musical talent to help others

When Johnny Beach was just six years old, something caught his eye.

"On YouTube, I found a 14-year-old boy playing the Orange Blossom Special and it just moved me and I really wanted to do it," he said.

His mother, Jamie O'Donnell, said it was love at first sight.

"He was captivated by it. He begged us for six months to get him a fiddle, so we got him a fiddle and he took right to it," she said.

Now eight, the Riverview boy is passionate about fiddling, takes lessons and practises at least 30 minutes a day.

Kate Letterick/CBC News
Kate Letterick/CBC News

Johnny joined some young fiddle players called the Plucky Pizzicatos, who perform for seniors and take part in some fundraising benefits.Johnny

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that all stopped. Johnny decided to keep on playing.

"He was just practising in front of our house and as people were walking by on the street they were cheering for him and we even had a few people that ran up and gave him a little tip, so he got this idea to street perform," O'Donnell said. "

"It was just a way that he could share his gift with others."

And Johnny made a decision about what to do with the money.

"I just want to help people that need the money, and I don't really need it for anything, so I just like to give it to people that need it," he said.

Johnny's first donation was $300 to Riverview P.R.O. Kids, which provides financial assistance to help kids take part in sports, and artistic and recreational activities. The organization has helped Johnny qith his fiddle lessons.

O'Donnell said Johnny's next donation was to an organization near and dear to the whole family's heart: Friends of the Moncton Hospital.

Johnny received life-saving surgery at the Moncton Hospital at the age of three.

Johnny has made two donations of $200.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News
Pierre Fournier/CBC News

Now with the holidays approaching, he's turned his attention to the Albert County Food Bank.

"He knows that turkey dinner is something everybody likes to enjoy at Christmastime," O'Donnell said. "Not every family has that opportunity, so he knows that the Albert County Food Bank gives Christmas boxes and turkey dinners to families, so that's his focus right now … to see how much money he can raise for them in time for their Christmas boxes."

Donations are also coming in online.

With the weather turning colder, O'Donnell hopes they can find some place indoors where Johnny can continue playing and raising money.

"With COVID, it's really difficult because businesses — there's a lot of guidelines and a lot of restrictions and businesses definitely don't want to be doing anything that could potentially draw any kind of a crowd, and he tends to draw a little bit of a crowd wherever he is.

"So it's been really hard to find somewhere indoors."

Kate Letterick/CBC News
Kate Letterick/CBC News

But that was far from Johnny's mind as he chose a tune from his songbook and picked up his fiddle. He played with joy, tapping his foot along to the beat.

Johnny said he'll keep raising money. And he hopes to become a professional fiddler someday.

His mother gets emotional watching him play.

"I have those happy cries, like, a few times a week. Just the amazing things that people say and seeing that's my little boy — that's just motivating and inspiring people and bringing so much joy everywhere he goes. Proud would be an understatement."