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A Simple Gift of Music

Staff member Kim Vinson hits the right notes at Trojan Grounds.

Photo/Allison Engel

During finals week, bleary-eyed students making their way to Trojan Grounds at 7 a.m. have been treated to a simple gift from USC staff member Kim Vinson.

Vinson, a student services coordinator for USC College Advisement, plays Christmas carols on her B-flat flute for all the harried souls in the coffee shop. Next week, when the students are home for break, she will set up her music stand outside the Starbucks on Hoover Street for five mornings.

She played from 7 to 8:15 a.m. each morning and then hurried to start her workday at 8:30. Vinson has performed this act of holiday cheer every year since 1998 � the year after she began playing the flute.

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Silent Night” calmed frazzled students clutching cram sheets filled with yellow highlighter slashes. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” reminded them that they only had a short while before their nonstop studying would end.

“I do it to celebrate the season and spread the joy,” Vinson said. “That’s the honest truth from my heart.”

Students waiting in line for caffeine appreciated her effort. “That’s so sweet,” murmured freshman Sloan Skala of Los Angeles, when told that Vinson volunteers her time and talent.

“It’s a pleasure,” said freshman Adam Ross of Tucson, Ariz.

Vinson began taking flute lessons from former USC Thornton School of Music faculty member Patricia Cloud. Her current private teacher is Ellen Burr. She also studies with A. Latif at the World Jazz Theory Workshop in Leimert Park and plays in the El Camino College Concert Band.

As she began the pure, familiar notes of “Christmas Time Is Here” to the accompaniment of hissing espresso machines and a worker stocking shelves, it was clear that the time of giving indeed was here, from one Trojan Family member to all.

A Simple Gift of Music

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