Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka 2008
By Jennifer Anandanayagam
When four week old Cumara (later named Tjaco Van der Weerd) was taken to Netherlands from Matara, Sri Lanka where he was born, by his adoptive Dutch parents, perhaps none could have imagined that the young boy would find a passion and liking that ould drive his course of life with such influence. But crossing the border to enter Netherlands, Tjaco’s life entered a new arena; not just in elation to his physical environment but primarily deep within himself. Eighteen year old Tjaco has three sisters elder to him, all of hom are from Sri Lanka. The beginning The piano and organ were instruments young Tjaco began to experiment with at the tender ge of four and his musical tunes spread within the domains of his home. Having been born with 50% of sight, young Tjaco became ompletely blind by the age of seven. Teaching himself the basics of playing the piano and organ, he got his first music lessons when e was nine. His family too having been always into music, encouraged the young boy in his talent and although initially he was more nterested in learning to play the organ, he was promoted by his family to learn the piano as well. At the age of seven, with the state f complete blindness, there was a possibility of undergoing an operation that would help Tjaco regain 50% of his vision and retain it, but after three operations, the procedure proved fruitless. His
primary education was carried on in a conventional school with all his counterpart in the class having the ability to see. However, he began his secondary education in the year 2002 in a special school set up for visually impaired children. Simultaneously, with his learning process, Tjaco was becoming more and more involved in playing the piano and the organ. After taking classes, he was able to get master classes with six professional organ and piano players who play the instruments worldwide. Tjaco began playing in Dutch churches in Holland and through such performances, he was able to audition for the Conservatory University of Music, which would award him the educational
qualification that will open the gateway for him to become a professional player.