ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Sarah Pearl Anderson was born deaf. A doctor was able to restore her hearing and recommended music to help her refine her hearing and speech skills.

“He gave me an experimental process to try to give me my hearing back and it worked,” she recalled. “My doctor thought it would be so great that I could hear and thought it would be great to play, too, so he gave me his kid’s violin to start out with.”

Anderson has been playing the violin since she was five. She was born at an orphanage in China and was adopted by a family in Rockford.

Her mom, Julia, says music was how she found to express herself.

“I think the music became her voice,” Julia said. “It was a way to gain attention from people, without really having to speak.”

Anderson has been learning music at the Music Academy in Rockford for the past 12 years, and now she is the first recipient of the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) Young Music Scholarship.

RAMI executive director Laura Eakman says the organization is pleased to be a part of Anderson’s journey.

“There is nothing better than seeing a student progress,” she said.

The RAMI scholarship was made possible by the Hard Rock Casino Rockford.

“Hard Rock is synonymous with music,” said Hard Rock’s director of slot operations, Mark Johnson. “[We want to partner with] any organization that fosters local music, local area musicians.”

Anderson hopes music can be therapeutic to others as well.

“Music is more accessible than they think,” she said. “To people that think they didn’t start early enough, there is always a community for someone.”

Anderson says with the RAMI scholarship, she plans to branch out and give other instruments a try.