Saline Middle Schooler Overcomes Challenges to Play with Detroit Symphony Orchestra


Saline Middle School student Michael Talvitie, age fourteen, was recently chosen to perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The eighth grader has also qualified for the All State Band for the second year, and has competed in Solo and Ensemble to win medals and two “one” rankings for two years in a row.


What makes Michael’s accomplishments even more impressive is that he plays his tuba with only one hand.

“I am a one-handed tuba player. I was born with one hand,” he said. “Back in fifth grade, I came to pick an instrument, and knowing I only have one hand, everything was canceled out, all the orchestra and strings. I was pretty much left with the fingering tuba and trumpet. I just saw that tuba and was like ‘That’s a big instrument and a cool instrument, and I want to play it.’”

Talvitie took to the instrument quickly.

“I started playing that thing, and I was meant for it. I’ve been playing for three and a half years, and I’ve just come to adapt to playing tuba.”

“Michael is an amazing musician,” said Rebekah Allmand, Saline Middle School band teacher. “He started playing his tuba in the fifth grade here in Saline and has continued to learn and grow each year.”

“One thing I love about Michael is that he approaches every musical challenge with enthusiasm and excitement. If there is an opportunity to play more music, Michael is all in,” Allmand said.

Tammy Talvitie, Michael’s mother, agrees.

“His strongest asset is tenacity. Once he sets his mind to accomplish something, he never gives up until he succeeds,” she said.

Michael, who also plays in the Saline Middle School Jazz Band, enjoys playing other instruments, including piano and drums. He plans on continuing with this tuba at Saline High School, and hopes to attend SHS Marching Band Camp this summer.

“Tuba is one of the few instruments that Michael did not have to make any adjustments to play. This is why we encouraged him to try it, and thankfully, he loved it, and was good at it, right away,” Tammy Talvitie said. “As a bonus, he is a big, strong guy, so he’s able to carry the heavy instrument around when needed.”

Ms. Allmand is proud of the accomplishments of Michael and his fellow Saline Middle School bandmates.

“Earlier this year, Michael and four other Saline Middle School students were selected to be a part of the MSBOA All-State Band,” Allmand said. “To be selected for this ensemble, students need to prepare and perform a required etude, memorize extended scale work and sightread at the audition.”

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra Middle School Honors Band will perform at Orchestra Hall on March 7th at 6:30 PM.

“We were so pleased that Michael and 37 other Saline Middle School musicians were accepted this year,” Ms. Allmand said. “Students who were selected for the DSO MS Honors Band will rehearse concert music with world class DSO conductors and perform a concert on their music that same evening for friends and family in Orchestra Hall. They will also get to meet and work with DSO musicians.”

Talvitie said he was honored to be chosen for this performance.

“I just love making other people happy, and when I get nominated for something, it just makes me feel good about all the hard work that I put into it.”

He offered good advice for budding musicians.

“Repetition and hard work. If you want to do something, then you’ve got to put your mind to it and get it done.”

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