Music as Determination


Music has helped me mature…

Music has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I started playing the violin in fourth grade just for fun, but as the years passed, my music has gotten me to different places and through different struggles.

I think that by playing my instrument, I have had to learn to balance my academics with my art. I have to study in order to get good grades in my classes and I have to practice too. It can be a challenge. I’ve had to stay up late at times, because I’ve had rehearsal and a major test I needed to study for too. I’ve learned to schedule my life and follow what I need to do in daily activities and in goals because of orchestra. I will plan out what I need to get done in a day, but I will also plan out what I want to achieve in life. I’ve become more organized.

Without my music or my instrument, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Music has matured me and helps me in real situations. It has helped me accomplish my goals of attending the schools of my choice. Music has also opened doors towards new and great opportunities such as scholarships.

Music has matured me because I’ve learned to cooperate with others and I’ve also learned to depend on myself. As an orchestra member, I’ve learned that if there is no communication between the players, then a piece might not be as perfect as if there was communication. The same applies to every day things. Communication is key to many things. When I play my solos I’ve learned to trust myself, because I am the only one that is capable of helping me. This helps me feel independent.

Making music is the most wonderful thing in the world. I admit that sometimes it can be exhausting. Performing in front of strangers while my legs are shaking with fear is not a blast, but the outcome of playing, having people congratulate me and being proud of myself, is worth everything and more.



Music is a part of me; it is me…

About the time of seventh grade I became extremely serious about music. I started to ignore other aspects of life that I had thought of as essential, such as computer games, being popular, fitting in, TV, and more.

I love to practice. I work as hard as I can to learn everything possible about the music in front of me, and after I have learned it to a point where I feel comfortable, it is great to reflect that not too long ago, this was a new and seemingly difficult piece. The effort is half the fun because I know that I am becoming a better musician with every note, every strike, every hit.

When I play music, I feel a sense of ease and comfort. It is as if I am channeling something much larger than myself. I am sometimes able to just look down at myself and feel a sense of awe that I am creating all of these sounds and textures. I love to feel myself creating music.

When people ask me what I like to do, the answer that comes most readily to mind is music. Through music, I have trained myself to work to the brink of my capabilities. I have trained myself to have discipline, organization, time management, and an overall sense of perseverance. If there is a task ahead of me, due to my musical experience, I am not afraid to face it no matter how daunting it may seem. I believe that music is a part of me, it is me, and I am it.



Music taught me perseverance…

Music is noise organized in time; it is also a form of art. Music is a normal part of my life. Music can be a way to open or touch someone’s heart through and through. Music can be used spiritually to make it through rough times. Music Lives in me.

I am a student at  Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where I study as a Jazz Vocalist Major and I have crossed clustered to a Visual Artist as well. It took time, perseverance, motivation, inspiration and determination to attend Booker T. The first two times that I auditioned I was not accepted. I thought about giving up. I told myself that I’d never audition again. One of the music directors told me that I did not have a classical background. I was told that my voice was too jazzy.

At the end of my sophomore year, I auditioned again – and I was accepted. I realized that perseverance was a weapon that I used to fight that battle, but the war was not over. I also realized that if I would have given up, I would not have had an opportunity to become stronger. That was an obstacle that I overcame that made me a better vocalist. Roger Boykin once said: “Anything you do that expands your mind makes you a better musician.”

My deepest desire is to become a vocalist that can sing fine music; but also to read, teach, and play it just as well. Although I have been told that I show deep emotion and enthusiasm while singing, I just open my mouth and sing.



Music impacts lives in a significant way…

I was in the Orff drum group at my middle school and when I came to the Hockaday School I missed it so much because there was nothing like it here. You either had choir or orchestra and that was it. So, my mom was working in the lower school and I would hang out there all the time. I’d see all these lower school Orff instruments that no one was using. I thought, hey, let’s see if we can get something going. So, I started a small percussion group at the end of my sophomore year. There were about 15 of us and we’d play in the morning. I bought books and I started teaching songs and now it’s grown to 40 people. We’ve got all this repertoire and we’re a constant at ISAS and we got a standing ovation this year! It was so great!

The biggest difference I saw when I started the group was two things. I didn’t really feel like I fit in. Once I started this percussion group I felt like I had a place in this school, I felt really, really connected to all the students. I was making my mark, my grades flew up. It connected me to the whole Hockaday experience. The second thing is that I LOVE seeing people coming in, new to the group, that have no musical skills — I’m talkin’ they can NOT do it — and I’ll work with them, I’ll have tutoring sessions after school. By the end of the year they are rockin’ out on the hardest parts. It’s so gratifying for me to know that without that they wouldn’t have been able to gain those skills. I know that I’ve impacted their lives in a significant way and that’s really exciting for me. I’ve always seen myself being a teacher. I’m starting “Percussion for the Non-Percussionist” at Berklee next year!

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