Seniors hit high notes

Justine Seligson, Photo Coordinator

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It’s a Saturday morning. Dan Shapiro ’14 is on the train heading into the city to attend his weekly Juilliard Pre-College Program.

The following day, he heads to Norwalk to take part in practice of the Youth Symphony. Each school day of that week he has band class. Between all these different group sessions, he finds three hours every day to independently practice his classical music.

“I really just love playing the French horn,” Shapiro said. “Even when it’s the boring, gritty work.”

And as a result of his intense effort, Shapiro will be furthering his passion with an approaching education at the Manhattan School of Music.

He is one of several members of the Staples class of 2014 who will be pursuing music in college.
According to Nicholas Mariconda, director of the band program at Staples, five of his students will be doing just that.

With 461 graduating seniors, this number is tiny, for acceptance to an undergraduate music program is very selective.

For the Oberlin College Conservatory, musicians must compete with their peers for the maximum of 600 seats available. Typically for the application process, prospective students visit the school and perform a selected song for a jury, as well as submit a professional recording of their playing.

“The students have to love music,” Mariconda said. “They have to be willing to practice hours to get good at their instruments.”

While many musicians have already been placed in their desired program, others will go through the process upon commencing their freshman year.

Sam Adelmann ’14 is an example. During his first semester at Tulane University, he will have to perform in a variety of voice auditions in order to enter his desired musical theatre program.

“I’m not concerned [about getting accepted] because the musical theatre program is not based on accepting a certain number of students,” Adelmann said. “It’s based on accepting students who they feel are ready.”

These students had better be ready.

According to Staples orchestra director Adele Valovich, the competition in an undergraduate music program is harsh.

“They will have to adjust from an environment where they are the best among a smaller pool of talent to a much, much larger pool of talent where they may not necessarily be the best,” Valovich explained.

“They will have to step it up,” Mariconda said, which he explained causes some students to realize that being a professional musician is not their future.

For the ones who do stay in this track, though, they tend to realize that music really is their passion. Mariconda cited alumnus Harry Zec ’13 who through his jazz career at Berklee College of Music, has learned that “the competition has made him want to pursue it even more.”

Students interviewed understand the big, competitive worlds in which they are entering and realize that this is one (difficult) step closer to their goals of professional music.

“I like the challenge,” Adelmann said.

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