Omaha nonprofit turns young musician’s dream into reality with repaired violin

A nonprofit is helping students move forward in learning music
Published: Feb. 19, 2023 at 10:55 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Emiliano Carrera-Ybañez never expected to be mesmerized by the strings and sounds of a violin at such a young age.

“I told my mom hey I really want to do this,” Carrera-Ybañez said.

It all began in fourth grade in Carrera-Ybañez’s science class.

Carrera-Ybañez said it felt like fate at the moment when he saw a teacher come into his class with a box full of instruments.

“When she went up she was calling on students right on who wants to play what and I remember I raised my hand. I was the first one to raise my hand and she called on me.”

He raised his hand out of curiosity, little did he know this lady would be his soon-to-be music school teacher for the strings program in Omaha Public Schools.

Carrera-Ybañez said he went up in front of his class to play ‘Mary had a little lamb’ on a violin unknown of what he was doing, but he was sure of one thing.

“From then on, I was like yes I have to do this.”

Carrera-Ybañez worked towards one goal and that was to play in the all-state orchestra. However, to play for all-state meant being one of the best musicians and that usually comes with a hefty price.

At the time, Carrera-Ybañez couldn’t afford private music lessons and a quality instrument, but that didn’t stop him.

“Emiliano’s been self-taught, he learned by watching Youtube videos,” said Judy Divis, the VP of Education with the Omaha Chamber Music Society. “He never had a lesson and I could not believe what I was seeing.”

Divis is behind Good Vibrations, a nonprofit that’s been collecting and fixing up used stringed instruments to give to students that come from low-income backgrounds.

Divis has been doing this since 2018. She also visits schools in the metro to coach music-driven students.

“We were noticing that there were students of lower-income schools that were playing instruments that we’re basically broken and in need of help,” Divis said.

Divis met Carrera-Ybañez at Bryan High School. She was inspired by his musical talent. This set Divis on a mission to help Carrera-Ybañez achieve his dream.

With a repaired violin and a couple of music lessons later, Carrera-Ybañez played as the principal violinist at the all-state orchestra in his junior year of high school.

“I realized I’m going somewhere with music,” Carrera-Ybañez said.

Now Divis is set out to help other students. They’ve repaired a total of 300 stringed instruments.

“Things just started falling into place, it seems when you’re on the right path things have a way of doing that,” Divis said.

Good Vibrations is accepting donations for any instrument through its website. You can also contact (402) 679-3302.