Last year at around this time, Frankie Bones was fighting to study piano in the U.S.
The aspiring musician had been invited to attend a school in Washington and take piano classes with a professor at Walla Walla University. But as a foster child, Bones ran into roadblocks as he was technically under the custody of the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The controversy was played out in newspapers and on TV, but was eventually resolved.
And last August, the 18-year-old did, in fact, leave his longtime foster family in Surrey and head south for school.
The battle to go, says Bones, was well worth it.
“Definitely,” he said last week, now back in Surrey for the summer having graduated Grade 12 from Walla Walla Valley Academy.
“I’ve already learned so much. I have so much more endurance on the piano,” Bones said, explaining he can not only play longer, but he plays differently.
“And by differently, I mean better.”
He also went on a 10-day tour of Europe with his school orchestra, visiting and performing in Prague, Vienna and Germany.
His longtime foster mother, Esther Cordner, says the entire experience has been invaluable.
“He’s just blossomed. He has done so well,” Cordner says. “It’s a success story.”
Now, Bones plans to head back down to Walla Walla in mid-September to start his first year of university. His goal is to get his bachelor’s degree in music performance, with a minor in kinesiology.
“It’s the back-up plan,” he says of his minor, explaining that if his music career doesn’t pan out, he can be a gym trainer or teacher. “If I end up teaching, I’d be fine with it, but performing is my ultimate.”
Bones turns 19 on Aug. 20 and will no longer be part of the foster care system.
The same day, he will be performing at a concert at the Westminster Seventh-Day Adventist Church – the same church he plays the organ in for weekly services. Though he also plays violin as well, the upcoming concert will be piano only, featuring pieces by Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.
The recital will feature Bones, as well as a few guest performers, and is a fundraiser for The College Worthy Student Fund for college students in need of financial assistance.
The concert takes place Aug. 20, 7 p.m. The church is located at 7925 Tenth Ave. in Burnaby.