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Jeremy Cushman asked his parents for permission to start playing the violin at only two years of age. His mother felt he should wait a few years. But when he finally began taking lessons, when he was five years old, Cushman picked up the violin quickly. “He was very fast, and his teacher [Yukako Tarumi] told us he had something special,” Cushman’s mother, Elissa, said. “She was surprised at his determination right away.”
Special may not even describe the Little Neck resident’s talents. At only the age of 15, Cushman has already performed solo at Madison Square Garden, the United Nations, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, and the New Orleans Superdome (in front of 14,000 during Microsoft’s “Symbol of Potential” convention, when he met Microsoft CEO Bill Gates).
The Benjamin Cardozo sophomore recently won the American Fine Arts Festival Young Performers competition, earning an appearance at Carnegie Hall on May 17th, and a week later will fly to Scottsdale, AZ for a pair of performances of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Scottsdale Symphony Orchestra. He’s also performed overseas, in Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Argentina and Switzerland, and over the summer traveled as the concertmaster/soloist of the Children’s Orchestra Society’s Young Symphonic Ensemble on its concert tour of England and Scotland.
“It’s amazing,” he said of his many accomplishments and experiences. “I’ve had a lot of great opportunities to perform. … I’ve been lucky to get all these performances. It’s exciting every time. It never gets old.”
In addition to these extravagant performances, Cushman also does his part for charity. He performs in the Variety Children’s Charity Telethon, televised on PAX Television through the metropolitan area, every year, and several other events at hospitals and nursing homes around the holiday season, including a concert for cerebral palsy at the Tilles Center on Long Island in October of 2005.
His worldly experiences haven’t come without a great deal of hard work. For nine years, he worked with Tarumi, playing with her group, the Tarumi Violinists. Eventually, he moved on to take lessons from the renowned Juilliard professor, Shirley Givens, and concert violinist Kyu-Young Kim. Now, every day after school, Cushman practices his craft for three hours every day. “He’s a very hard worker,” Givens said. “He’s very bright and is a brilliant student. He learns quickly and he’s a pleasure to teach because he accomplishes things very fast.”
Still, he finds time to maintain an A-plus average in the DaVinci Math and Science program at Cardozo. Furthermore, he’s the captain of the sophomore math team at the school, which he led to a gold medal this year in citywide competition. And as a freshman, Cushman was awarded a gold medal for his independent math research paper on mathematical game strategy. “I basically enjoy everything about math,” he says. “I like problem solving a lot, which is basically what the math team is all about.”
Even at a young age, before Cushman starting taking violin lessons and began rapidly excelling musically, his mother, Elissa, saw a rare focus for such a young child in her son, an ability to finish whatever he started.
“Always from the beginning he was disciplined, very hardworking from when he was little,” she said. “He applied himself to whatever it was [he was doing]. Even in nursery school, he was the last one working on the final details of a project.”

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