“Being a musician requires that you believe in yourself and take care of yourself. These lessons will stick with me for the rest of my life. I hope to pursue music performance and composition professionally in the future.”
Former Student – George Stevens Academy – Class of 2017
Instrument: Piano and Tenor Sax
Describe how music has impacted your life.
I started taking piano lessons at age six because my brother played piano and I wanted to play, too. Because of the phenomenal music programs at my middle and high schools, I stuck with music and learned a new instrument, the saxophone. Throughout middle and high school, music was one of my favorite activities, and it helped me meet new people and make new friends from all over the state of Maine. During my junior year of high school, I had to decide what to study in college. To my surprise, I was accepted to the Eastman School of Music’s Jazz program, so I took a leap of faith and decided to attend. I’m so glad I did, because with the support of my incredible teacher, I have realized that I want to pursue music as a career. Being a musician is a unique experience because it forces you to learn about yourself in a way that other activities don’t. It’s difficult to explain, but trying to be a musician has been an extremely emotional and rewarding journey because of all the ways it forces you to grow. Because music is such a notoriously difficult career, young musicians are always questioning themselves and wondering if they can succeed. As a result, being a musician requires that you believe in yourself and take care of yourself. These lessons will stick with me for the rest of my life. I hope to pursue music performance and composition professionally in the future.
Describe your connection to Mr. O
Mr. O was hands down my favorite teacher in high school. He brings an incredible amount of energy and passion to the classroom. He is completely dedicated to his students; he would have combo rehearsals before, during, and after school, sometimes with the additional basketball game or concert at night. Mr. O provided us with so many rewarding experiences, from “winning” the state jazz festival to performing at the Deer Isle Jazz Festival to competing in Boston at the Berklee College of Music. Mr. O’s support is a big reason why I have continued to pursue music after high school. He remembers all of his students, and always gives us a warm welcome when we’re home for break. I am so thankful to have had Mr. O as my teacher in high school, and to continue to have his support through college and beyond.
Describe Mr. O in three words.
Passionate, Generous, Funny
What is your most memorable story involving Mr. O?
There are so many Mr. O stories; it’s hard to remember remember any one in particular. It seems like day resulted in a memorable Mr. O story. Usually they involved the jazz band rehearsals right before districts or states. When a student would show up late or forget their music, Mr. O would use some colorful vocabulary to express his frustration, which was definitely scary, but also kind of funny, because he always ended his speeches by saying how much he loved us. The final phrase was always, “you know it comes from the heart, right?”
If you could ask Mr. O any question, what would it be?
Have you written your book yet? Where did you find the energy to put up with us all day?