The Minority: Music-Oriented Students

The Minority: Music-Oriented Students

Music is rarely taken seriously at IMSA. Many of us lose the passion for performance in the midst of stress and work, and only pop in the music wing once in a while to test whether our muscles still remember the movements of our favorite pieces and if our ears can still follow the melody. But there are key individuals in our school today still pursuing their passion in music, not forgetting the feeling of losing themselves in the music. They emphasize the importance of music to a community, and how music fits into their life at IMSA.


Isabella Spinelli is a member of class of 2017, and she was formally involved with CYSO as their concertmaster and first chair violinist. She is now president of IMSA’s chamber strings orchestra, and the music coordinator of the Aspiring Artists’ Sinfonia (AAS), as well as a member of strolling strings. She is currently doing an SIR with Dr. Dong about composing the third movement of a Rachmaninoff string quartet. Isabella says that music allows her to be part of a community, similar to how a team works together in a sport, but it also allows her to shine alone. She explains, “Music has always allowed me to be more than what I am away from it. It lets me be a part of a bigger whole–whether that’s a quartet, an orchestra, or the community of musicians past and present. But at the same time, it allows me to be an individual.” Though she is pressed for time to practice due to schoolwork, she still continues to pursue her passion: “At IMSA, it can be difficult to find enough time to practice, especially when I am preparing for performances and/or auditions.  But in many ways, music represents who I am.  And so a day that I don’t practice is like a day of not being myself.”


Anabel Rivera is a member of the class of 2016. She is a cellist, serving as a member of strolling strings and currently holding the role of AAS president. She emphasizes the sense of community that music offers, not only through a group such as an orchestra, but through connecting people with similar interests. Here, she explains her perspective of music:

As my cello teacher puts it, music is part art and part craft. This combination of precision and creativity is what originally drew me in, and I’ve stuck with it. There is a community of similarly-minded technical and innovative people here at IMSA. I’ve learned a lot from them. By far, the most important thing music has shown me is its power to bring people together through a mutual interest in a band or the performance of a dramatic piece with an intimate group of friends. Music has always been an integral part of my life, since I come from a musical family, and I strive to keep it up. It’s a huge part of who I am and what I do.


Hieu Nguyen is a member of the class of 2017, and he plays piano as a hobby. Before IMSA, he was actively playing piano for 11 years. “I started playing when I was 5, around the same time that my interests in math and science were also developing. Although it was my parents who got me started, I knew myself that it would grow into something that I would love.” For him, passion stemmed from the stress-relief it provided for his busy life. “For me, sometimes music can be sort of an escape from the busy atmosphere of IMSA. It’s really relaxing to just sit there and let my thoughts channel through my fingers onto the piano, to allow my mind to wander for a bit, to just contemplate things that are usually hard to think about while doing homework.” he said. Usually, you can see Hieu in the music rooms after school jamming at the pianos. But, he’s also involved musically outside of the music wing. “When I’m not at IMSA, I’m playing piano at churches or writing orchestral pieces on my computer.” Even at IMSA, music remains a part of his daily life. “Music helps me get through every day, and I don’t know what I’d be without it.”


IMSA offers sometimes overwhelming opportunities and an abundance of resources for developing ideas. However, it’s important that we don’t forget the passions that teach us the patience needed to achieve perfection. As many of us think technically and mechanically day after day, a release of creativity through improvisation and abstract thinking is needed at times. Music provides an outlet of creativity that cannot be created from theorems and mechanisms, but rather with emotions. A passion for music facilitates emotional growth, and living without that is incomprehensible.

1 Comment on "The Minority: Music-Oriented Students"

  1. I like this so much :) :) :) I’m currently working on the f# minor nocturne! they’re beautiful pieces.Don’t get me wrong, you have to be strong and confident to be successful in just about anything you do – but with music, there’s a deeper emotional component to your failures and successes. If you fail a chemistry test, it’s because you either didn’t study enough, or just aren’t that good at chemistry (the latter of which is totally understandable). But if you fail at music, it can say something about your character. It could be because you didn’t practice enough – but, more terrifyingly, it could be because you aren’t resilient enough. Mastering chemistry requires diligence and smarts, but mastering a piano piece requires diligence and smarts, plus creativity, plus the immense capacity to both overcome emotional hurdles, and, simultaneously, to use that emotional component to bring the music alive.
    Before I started taking piano, I had always imagined the Conservatory students to have it so good – I mean, for their homework, they get to play guitar, or jam on their saxophone, or sing songs! What fun! Compared to sitting in lab for four hours studying the optical properties of minerals, or discussing Lucretian theories of democracy and politics, I would play piano any day.

    But after almost three years of piano at Orpheus Academy, I understand just how naïve this is. Playing music for credit is not “easy” or “fun” or “magical” or “lucky.” Mostly, it’s really freakin’ hard. It requires you to pick apart your piece, play every little segment over and over, dissect it, tinker with it, cry over it, feel completely lame about it, then get over yourself and start practicing again. You have to be precise and diligent, creative and robotic. And then – after all of this – you have to re-discover the emotional beauty in the piece, and use it in your performance.

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