77ºF

Fifth grade musician with prosthetic honors late father by playing violin

SAN ANTONIO – The Northside Independent School District says they have a legendary student that walks the halls of Villarreal Elementary, inspiring others through a positive attitude and passion for music.

His name is Kevin Gonzalez, a 5th grader.

Gonzalez isn’t like most kids. Instead of immediately heading home after the last bell rings, he’s putting in a lot of after-school hours to learn to play the violin.

“The violin, I like it, because it makes beautiful sounds,” Gonzalez said.

Villarreal Elementary School music teacher, Mary Fimbel, teacher 5th grader, Kevin Gonzalez to play the violin. Gonzalez was born without his lower left arm.
Villarreal Elementary School music teacher, Mary Fimbel, teacher 5th grader, Kevin Gonzalez to play the violin. Gonzalez was born without his lower left arm. (KSAT12)

Gonzalez began the after-school violin classes this school year. Learning to read music and play a song has not been his biggest challenge.

"Whenever I was in kinder, people all like people talked about me and they would laugh of me," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was born without his lower left arm. Until now, it hasn't stopped him or his teachers and even community members at Villarreal Elementary from dreaming big.

“He came and got papers for his entire table to sign up for violin,” Mary Fimbel said. Fimbel is the school’s music teacher. “I saw that he kept one for himself and he was being shy about it. I thought, ‘Oh no. We have to make this happen because last year he worked so hard in the symphony.’”

Gonzalez can also play the recorder. however playing the violin required a unique prosthetic.

"We didn't give up," Sandra Welzenbach said. "We knew that we had to get something for him so that he could play the violin. That meant everybody working behind the scenes to get it done."

Fimbel found a free plan on the internet to make a device to hold the violin, but it required a lot more work. Welzenbach's husband, Craig Welzenbach, even got involved to help assemble the pieces of the unique prosthetic for Gonzalez.

The first edition of the prosthetic was made up from a metal rod, bicycle parts, pieces of a knee brace and a 3D printer.

“Even (a) bicycle clamp, as simple as it seems, needed to be special ordered,” Craig Welzenbach said.

Since then, a more comfortable prosthetic for Gonzalez has been made. He's now on the right path to master the violin and accomplish his musical goal to honor his father.

“(My passion for music) started whenever, like, my dad died, because, he would put music on,” Gonzalez said. “We were there, (at home) always singing.”

Gonzalez wants to learn to play a song on the violin that reminds him of his dad titled, “Ya no llores por mi,” which translates to don’t cry for me anymore.

“If I would learn it, I would be so happy,” Gonzalez said. “Because, like, some people told me that I can do nothing. I can do this, and I’m thinking about learning (to play) the guitar.”