I have attended Crossroads Charter Academy in Big Rapids, MI since fall 2006. In that time, I have been blessed with countless opportunities in the musical field to assist in reaching my current level. To organizations such as the Tuba Bach Chamber Music Festival (for which I presented my public debut in 2008 alongside drummer Bernie Dresel), the Third Avenue United Methodist Church (for which I have been providing music for services since 2006 as drummer [2006-2015] and organist [2016-present]), STAGE-M (a local community theatre group for which I have performed as a pit musician since 2008), and the Ferris State University Community Summer Band (2008-present) I am forever indebted for enriching, immersing, and teaching my musical self. While my obligations to all of the aforementioned organizations are ongoing, other opportunities have come up more recently to further my study and development. These include: the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony (member/percussionist since 2014-2015 season); private percussion lessons with Gwendolyn Dease, Kramer Milan, David Hall, and Tia Harvey; private score study/orchestration lessons with John Varineau (Spring 2018); the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute (summers of 2016, 2017, and 2018); Zeltsman Marimba Festival On Tour – Boston 2018 (participant); and masterclasses with Michael Burritt, Fernando Chaib, Pius Cheung, David Fishlock, Ji Hye Jung, Theodor Milkov, Gerald Noble, Michael Rosen, Charles Ross, Gordon Stout, Jack Van Geem, Robert Van Sice, Lee Vinson, Laurent Warnier, Nancy Zeltsman, and Xi (Rachael) Zhang. In addition, I have participated in the following competitions: Michigan Music Education Association Honors Composition Competition (2015, 2016 – participant; 2018 – winner); Skip Gates Concerto Competition (2016 – winner); Grand Rapids Symphonic Band Youth Soloist Competition (2017 – participant; 2018 – winner); Michigan Youth Arts Festival Concerto Competition (2017 – winner; 2018 – participant); Lansing Symphony Orchestra Youth Soloist Competition (2017 – winner); Jan and Beattie Wood Concerto Competition (2017 – winner); National YoungArts Competition (2017 – merit winner in Classical Music Composition; 2018 – participant); and the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Piano Concerto Competition (2019 – participant).
In working with many of those listed above, I have been given ample time and guidance on developing a philosophy as a performer and composer, through example or direct discussion. As a general rule, art serves the overall purpose of eliciting intellectual or emotional response from an audience. Painting and sculpture entertain the eye, fine wines do likewise for the tongue and nose, and music for the ears. All art should be conceived of and delivered with audience in mind, because it is the beholders who assign meaning and value to the creation, not the creator. Therefore, it is my desire as an artist to provide suitable material for appropriate public musing and enjoyment.
I believe that fulfillment does not always require extensive fore-planning; indeed, a life-changing opportunity, unimaginable by even the most obscure of dreams, may arise. Therefore, I refrain from long-term planning, so as not to be “in a rut” when something new comes along. Performance and composition will be part of my professional life most definitely, but exactly how? God only knows!