Reviews UBDB

Praise for Up Bow Down Bow

Excerpt “Everyone has challenges.  The question is not what our challenges are but how we view them and what we do in response to them. Nancy Schwartz along with her co-author April E. Beard, shares her response to challenge in a book that captures the idea of hope and perseverance and finding the beauty in each person. Nancy’s son Alex has Down syndrome and other health problems which make it difficult for him to do many things however, Nancy and her husband and children have always viewed Alex in a positive way and focused on what he can do. The idea of focusing on the positive in each person is what God wants and it’s what will make the world a better place. In this book, the reader comes along on the wonderful journey of Alex’s learning the cello and it’s a journey that will inspire everyone to always have hope and to see the positive in every situation.”

– Susie Garber 

Click here to read the full-length review by Susie Garber

Barbara Bowman – Irving B. Harris Professor, Erikson Institute

“Children with varying abilities have much to offer all of us. This book speaks to how parents, families, and communities can support children with diverse capabilities and the joy we can receive in return” 

— Barbara Bowman

Susie Garber – Educator, Mother, Grandmother, Reporter, Speaker & Author.

 “This book is a must-read for everyone. In eloquent prose Nancy and April share how music can give a voice to everyone and break down seemingly insurmountable barriers. The cello lessons in this book sing to the reader on so many levels. This book teaches that God sends all of us challenges and tests, and our job is to find the beauty and blessing hidden in those challenges. This is what Nancy and her hus­band have been able to do with their wonderful son, Alex, who was born with many disabilities. They chose to focus on the positive and what Alex can do, and that is the message to us all. What a blessing this is to anyone who reads it.”

— Susie Garber

Bob Rich – PhD, professional grandfather & author of From Depression to Contentment

“This beautiful book shows the inner beauty of a whole community, focused around the inner beauty of Alex, a little boy with Down syndrome. It is the joint account of a loving mother and a talented, loving music teacher in helping Alex to grow through learning to play the cello. At twelve years of age, Alex is unable to do many of the things we take for granted, including speech, and yet…  Read, and be inspired.”

— Bob Rich

Betty Litsinger – Director of Multilingual Writing, Bryn Mawr College

“This book, co-authored by the kind of teacher or parent that every child deserves, captures the magical powers of music to meet learners where they are. It is a loving thank you note to every teacher whose lessons have built our competence and confidence. While it is the continuing and triumphant story of one child’s journey towards independence, Up Bow, Down Bow is also a universal guide to how to live a good life—working together as a team and looking beyond obstacles to embrace new challenges.” 

— Betty Litsinger

Russ Walsh – Rider University, author of A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century

“This remarkable book continues the story, begun in the wonderful Up Not Down Syndrome, of Alex, a boy with Trisomy 21 and an insatiable desire to learn and grow, and his mother, Nancy, a woman with an insatiable desire to see that Alex gets those learning and grow­ing opportunities. Now Nancy teams with a remarkable young music educator, April Beard, to tell the story of Alex’s introduction to the world of music through instruction in playing the cello. The story is beauti­fully and compellingly told through three voices, Nancy’s, April’s, and Alex’s, as this trio navigates the challenges of achieving what some might see as an impossible task. In the end, this is a tale of the triumph of the human spirit. The triumph managed through a parent’s love and persistence, a teacher’s dedication, a young boy’s desire to learn, and music’s power to transform.” 

— Russ Walsh

Brenda Dixon-Gottschild – Ph.D., author, lecturer, consultant, teacher, performer, and Prof. Emerita, Dance Studies, Temple University.

“You write so simply, so lucidly, yet so profoundly. This is, just exquisite.” 

— Brenda Dixon-Gottschild

Jennifer Jie Jin – Cellist  

“It is thrilling to see Alex grow physically, emotionally, and mentally through learning the cello! The teamwork approach among Alex, April and Nancy is amazing. It’s a miracle that music connects not only to our inner selves, but also to the people we share it with.”  

— Jennifer Jie Jin

Kass Minor – Co-Founding Educator and Executive Director, The Minor Collective

Schwartz and Beard’s ability to work in tandem with one another, Schwartz as Alex’s mother, Beard as Alex’s teacher; show the power impact, perception and belief towards what children with varying abilities can do or will be able to do has on both their personal growth and quality of life. This collaboration offers a promising and powerful blueprint for educators, parents, and caregivers everywhere to collab­orate, teach, and love all children within the space of strength-based perspectives.”  

— Kass Minor

Sharon M. Ravitch – Ph.D., the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Up Bow, Down Bow: A Child with Down Syndrome and His Journey to Master the Cello by Nancy M. Schwartz and April E. Beard is a multivocal learning narrative that weaves the rhythms of a mother’s vision and persistence, a teacher’s skill and dedication, a young boy’s vitality and commitment to learning with the power of relational music instruction. In this book, the cello is a portal—to an illuminating vision of how families, educators, and communities can optimally support children with diverse capabilities in ways that generate reciprocal learning and transformation.” 

— Sharon M. Ravitch

Quotidian Tales – Community Writers Blog

“Reading the book “Up Bow Down Bow” by Nancy M. Schwartz and April E. Beard made me sense that same excitement in Nancy, a mother, who saw her youngest son Alex’s desire to learn and love music. She felt the pure bliss and emotions of music seep into Alex and positively impact every facet of his development.

The love for music is reflected even in the words of April, Alex’s music teacher, who narrates every other chapter in the book. She is a core believer in Alex’s abilities! The writing style is elegant and immersive, making it easy to get lost in the story of Alex. The vivid descriptions of Nancy, April, and Alex’s teamwork are also deftly woven into the narrative. It is a powerful reminder of staying true to one’s passion.

Every section of the book recounts a mighty beam of hope, a learning note, an endless bounty of support, and an unquivering faith to embrace the unknown.

Overall, “Up Bow Down Bow” is a beautiful saga of Alex, Nancy, and April that will leave readers feeling inspired and hopeful. It is a recommended book for any parent and exclusively for string parents who want to encourage their child’s love for music and creativity. A reminder that no matter what challenges we face, we can always find joy and fulfillment in seeking our passions.

Finally, to all string moms! You will surely relate to how exciting it is to see your kid making music a beautiful part of their journey in life.”