What did you do after SDYS?
I was lucky enough to be able to still play with the Youth Symphony throughout much of my undergraduate years at San Diego State University. I left San Diego originally to pursue my master’s degree in percussion at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where I specialized in contemporary music performance. I later returned to San Diego to work as a freelance musician and percussion instructor at several high schools in San Diego County.
What are you up to now?
I have just completed my DMA from Stony Brook University and I am now the Percussion Department Coordinator at the Juilliard School of Music as well as a freelance musician currently performing with “Swarmius” and “DNA” percussion duo. I work to be as active as I can in the research side of our art form by serving on the steering committee of the New York City Electro-Acoustic Music Festival and have had several articles featured in the Percussion Arts Society’s “Percussive Notes” magazine.
How has music influenced you?
Being a musician has been one of the most deeply rewarding choices I have made. Music has a way of becoming the cornerstone to every single important moment that we live. For me, performing music is a chance to create lifelong memories; rather than revisiting memories that I cherish through other means like pictures and video, I revisit pieces that I performed with people that I deeply care about. When I do this, I’m not thinking about the notes or the dynamics, but rather the late night rehearsals, and the feeling of energy and excitement of being on stage.
What did you learn from your days at SDYS?
How to listen to the musicians around you and play, not as an individual performer, but as part of something much bigger. The skill of performing with others is such a big element to being a musician that can’t be replicated by playing along with recordings and going to concerts. Not only are your listening skills sharpened within an ensemble, but you also learn that preparing your part for performance is much more important because everyone is relying on you to play at your best.
What role does music play in your life now?
Music is and will always be a constant in my life and has been the catalyst for me to explore other art forms. I like to think of myself as a perpetual student and with music there is always something new that can be learned. One thing I’m extremely excited about now is the commissioning of new works by composers that I love and helping them realize their works through performance.
What advice can you give to young musicians?
While practicing and perfecting your instrument is of course important, it is but one component to becoming a musician. To truly become an artist, it is important to enrich yourself through travel, visual art, literature, and other life experiences so that these experiences enrich the music that you perform.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Cherish the time and the music that you are making at this moment with these people. These moments will live with you the rest of your life and you will re-live them every time you set foot on stage to perform these works.