Ava Domini. Photo: Courtesy
Ava Domini. Photo: Courtesy

By Rachael Garcia

Many parents assume that creativity is an inherent talent that their kids are either born with or not. But creativity can be more of a skill than inborn talent, and it is a skill parents can help their kids foster.

This is something Heather Linberg of Rancho Santa Margarita, did for her daughter Ava Domini. Domini, a 14-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist whom has performed solo at the House of Blues Anaheim, Los Angeles and New Orleans, among other venues, was exposed to different instruments at a young age.

“I would leave instruments out for her to experiment with when she was a toddler, just as I would leave vegetables out so that Ava would learn to grab for them rather than unhealthy snacks when she was hungry,” Linberg said.

Constant exposure lead to skill, passion and a healthy outlet for Ava to express herself.

At eight years old, Domini learned how to play a whole song in her first 45-minute guitar lesson which lead Linberg to find in-house instructors and after school programs where her daughter could strengthen her skills.

Linberg said the passion Ava has for her music has created a strong work ethic in school because she knows whats on the line.

“I’m very supportive of her interests, but I’m also strict with school being first and then music,” Linberg said. “Ava understands that and takes school seriously.”

Domini carried a 3.8 grade point average in middle school and currently has a 4.0 as a freshman at Tesoro high school.

Linberg believes it’s important that Ava interacts with other kids who share the same interests and dedication. She did a lot of research and one of the places she found was Community Outreach Alliance (COA).

COA is a nonprofit organization based in San Clemente that offers fun and healthy activities to the community to help curb the use of drug and alcohol abuse among teens. They also offer acoustic guitar lessons, piano lessons and an improv comedy night.

Domini attends COA’s open mic nights for teens, where she connects and networks with other teens who also use creative outlets to express themselves.

“Whenever I’m emotional, happy or sad, being able to express myself through playing or writing a song helps cleanse my feelings,” Domini said.

Orange County High School of the Arts

Some teens crave a different high school experience, rather than just after school programs, where other teens and instructors who are dedicated to creative outlets surround them. In such cases, these teens can apply for admission to the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCSA).

Olivia Ross of Ladera Ranch was a gymnast and a violist getting ready to start high school at San Juan Hills. Her mom Valerie Ross had always encouraged her to participate in enrichment programs.

“I always wanted something more fulfilling for Olivia, something that she can take with her throughout her life,” Valerie said.

Olivia was passionate about both of her extra-curricular activities, but gymnastics was taking up all her time. She decided that she wanted to focus all of her attention to the viola. The very day she quit gymnastics, she decided to apply to OCSA.

“OCSA is a positive environment where the passion for arts is contagious and everyone can be themselves,” Olivia said.

Students at OCSA score 20 percent higher than the state average on the SATs and ACTs. Forty-six percent of OCSA alumni go on to have math and science careers, and 54 percent continue with careers in music.

“Being a student at OCSA and playing music everyday has made me smarter, I feel like I notice more things around the world and see music in everything, rather than if I didn’t play music,” Olivia said.

Olivia’s mom Valerie noticed that whenever she goes to productions, the student body that participates in the music program is passionate about life, education and music.

“The level of dedication spills over into all areas of their lives. It definitely helps them prepare for the future beyond high school.”

Other Creative Programs in the Tri-City Area

  • The Arts Project of Orange County in San Clemente: Offers musical theater, art, dance and music classes. They are located at 1317 Calle Avanzado and can be reached at 949.276.2787 or at theartsprojectoc.com.
  • The Ceramic Studio in San Juan Capistrano: Offers ceramics classes for children ages 2 to 17. They are located at 31878 Del Obispo, Suite 106, and can be reach at 949.412-9241 or at theceramicsstudio.com.
  • Tspoons Cooking Classes in San Juan Capistrano: Offers child and teen cooking classes and camps. They are located at 31770 Camino Capistrano, Suite D and can be reached at 949.218.5218 or at tspoons.com.
  • Los Rios Rock School in San Juan Capistrano: Provides instrumental instruction in guitar, drums, piano and all rock instruments, as well as vocals, songwriting, theory, sight-reading, engineering and recording. They are located at 32124 Paseo Adelanto, Suite 5 and can be reached at 949.456.1081 or at losriosrockschool.com.

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