Lindsey Christian-Hack is qualified to teach piano up to Grade 8 Royal Conservatory of Music level. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Classical music and kickboxing help Shuswap woman overcome learning disorders

Accomplished student becomes instructor, offering lessons in martial arts, violin and piano

A Salmon Arm resident is offering private lessons in two very different fields – classical music training and martial arts.

Lindsey Christian-Hack started taking lessons in violin and kickboxing at the age of 7. The activities were picked by her mother not out of want to expand her horizons, but to help Lindsey cope with her several learning disabilities. Problems didn’t start showing up until Kindergarten. After her mother Vicki sat in on a class, she noticed Lindsey struggling to follow strings of instructions given by her teacher and would look around to her classmates to figure out what she was supposed to be doing.

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“She just didn’t know what was going on, she just couldn’t understand it,” Vicki said of Lindsey’s experience in the classroom.

At first the issue was thought to be her hearing. After Lindsey’s hearing was checked and the results showing no sign of hearing loss, her mother was further puzzled. Lindsey was then pulled from public school in Grade 1 to start homeschooling. At the same time, she began lessons in kickboxing and violin.

“I always think music is great to learn – great for the mind, and I wanted her to get used to loud sounds and people touching her,” Vicki said.

Another more in-depth hearing test was performed in Kamloops and the pair finally had their answer. Lindsey had a moderately severe auditory processing disorder, essentially a lag that took place between her hearing the words spoken and actually understanding what they meant. However, this disorder meant by no means that Lindsey was slow. It turned out Lindsey fell into a category called gifted learning disabled or twice exceptional. This is a phenomenon where a child who is gifted also has learning disabilities.

Near this time, Lindsey was also diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Lindsey’s tics were mainly physical and, over time, they became so bad they affected her way of life.

“It just progressed until she couldn’t actually sit and focus at a table to do any work,” Lindsey’s mother said.

With the combination of disorders impacting her academics, Vicki made the decision to homeschool Lindsey. In the mostly stress-free environment, Lindsey was able to better manage her tics and get closer instruction to work through her auditory processing disorder.

Lindsey excelled in homeschooling and quickly advanced to two years beyond her age group in the public school system. After graduation, her homeschool offered to pay for one year of university. Before attending post-secondary, Lindsey had to be tested again to see if her auditory processing disorder had gotten worse. Although her mother had been told the disorder was not fixable, the second test showed a complete recovery.

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Lindsey went on to take a biology course at Okanagan College, and despite not taking any lab courses in high school, she completed the course and received full marks on her final lab exam. Although she maintains a healthy interest in the sciences, Lindsey wanted to focus more on her music and martial arts – activities she says were instrumental in helping her overcome her learning disorders.

Throughout her homeschooling, Lindsey had dug into both art forms. She earned her first blackbelt at age 12 and received her second at 14 when she switched to a form of light touch kickboxing. Since then, Lindsey has moved on to full contact kickboxing and karate. At 17, Lindsey started training with Barry Adkins, head instructor at White Crane Martial Arts in Kamloops where she continues to train.

In her own private lessons, Lindsey will teach a strictly fighting-focused brand of martial arts. No belt testing, no forms and no floor work. Just stand-up skills.

During her homeschooling Lindsey also earned her Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto (ARCT) certificate in violin performance. She is certified to teach music theory up to the ARCT level and is qualified to teach piano up to Grade 8 Royal Conservatory of Music level.

Even Lindsey realizes the surprising dichotomy between the two art forms but takes on the disciplines with vigor.

“You really have to change your mindset, it’s kind of like switching hats. For someone like me who has to be so busy all the time, having those two different worlds kind of gives me a break from each one,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey believes her perseverance through her learning disorders will be an asset to her as an instructor in both martial arts and music.

“I think, based on the experiences I’ve gone through, I’ll be able to relate to these students and figure out different methods of teaching different individuals,” Lindsey said. “I’ll be able to adapt to any challenges that my students have.”

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Along with her own martial arts/music instruction private lessons, the now 21-year-old is putting her violin and piano playing into music videos. Not content with her certifications in piano and violin, Lindsey is also working on her singing and guitar playing with the hopes of performing in a rock group somewhere in her future.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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Lindsey Christian-Hack earned her first blackbelt at 12 years old and received her second at 14. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Lindsey Christian-Hack started taking lessons in violin and kickboxing at the age of 7 and now teaches both art forms in private lessons. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

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