The thoughts of Ms. Kowalski

The thoughts of Ms. Kowalski

I learned that part of being a leader is knowing when to fall back and be more of a team player.

-Tell us about your musical journey.
In the fourth grade I took a tour in the orchestra room. I was attracted to the violin and started playing ever since. In the 8th grade I started taking the violin more seriously when I started to participate in after school chamber groups. In the 9th grade I was able to join one of the top orchestras in my school at Dobson. I traveled to San Francisco to do an orchestra competition where we won second place. This year I look forward to doing the orchestra competition in Flagstaff and/or Hollywood.

-Why do you like playing music?
I like playing music because it is fun and interesting. I also like the amazing people that I get to meet through music. Music intrigues me because when I look at the music or a score I can appreciate the complicated phrases, notes, and rhythms that I see. Sometimes when they get really tricky, I initially think that I can’t play it. However, after I practice and try for a while, the difficult phrases become easy. I like conquering those phrases. I like the sense of accomplishment that I get from learning new songs that are difficult for most people to play.

-What is something that not many people know about you?
I watch a lot Korean dramas, variety shows, and reality shows. I started off with anime, which introduced me to Japan’s culture. Exploring the culture of Japan lead me to wanting to learn about Korea’s culture. I now have a real appreciation for that culture. I even kind of understand what they’re saying but I still need subtitles.

-What performance skills help you in the classroom?
One thing that we learn in SOUNDS Academy is how to research a piece that you are playing. I use to just play notes on the page with out really knowing why the song was written or the name of the composer who wrote it. Now when I talk about musical things I have more confidence since I have more of a vocabulary for musical things. Before I use to use vague terms and did not really know a lot of performers or song titles, but now I can talk about people like Vivaldi, Shostakovich, and Yo-Yo Ma. I can use terms like staccato, con legno, and concerto. Some how through playing music, my vocabulary has extended to help me in other subjects in school.

-Why is music education important for children?
Music allows you to learn things about yourself. All kids should at least try it. If you don’t try it, you don’t know how it feels. It gives you a sense of confidence. You can discover things about yourself and find out that you are really good. I realized that I was really good at music and now I see myself pursuing it as a career.

-What have you done since being in SOUNDS Academy?
My violin skills have improved a lot! I feel like I am ten times better. I have done a lot of performances, especially solos. Having the confidence to play solos helps me in playing in other ensembles. Being in SOUNDS Academy helped me learn the techniques and have the confidence to become the section leader of the 2nd violin section in my school. I look to become principal of the 1st violin section next year. I have done many performances and played in places like the Orpheum Theatre, Joe’s Grotto, and the Mesa Arts Center. I look forward to playing in the Herberger Theatre. I played at the Food Day event in Chandler. Because of SOUNDS Academy, I was able to go to the String Quartet Camp and get a deeper understanding of chamber music playing and music theory. I hope to be able to go to another camp this summer; maybe the camp at Northern Arizona University or even Tanglewood!

-Why are programs like SOUNDS Academy important?
If there weren’t programs like SOUNDS Academy, many kids wouldn’t be able to play an instrument, take lessons, or get to perform. SOUNDS Academy decreases the cost of lessons so that people can afford it. They also make you do a lot of performances to get you prepared for auditions, other performances, etc. The performances give you confidence and then the auditions seem easy.

-What song are you looking forward to performing on the 9th? Why?
I am really looking forward to performing Presto in Eb Major by Mozart. It is a very exiting piece that I have been working on with my group [Ocotillo Trio].

-Between the characteristics of creativity, leadership, perseverance, resilience, and teamwork; which speaks the most about your journey so far? Why?
I would say leadership and teamwork. Before I came to SOUNDS Academy, I wasn’t really expected to be a leader. In my first chamber music experience, I was expected to play the first violin parts and be the leader of my group. At first it was challenging but now I have learned how to cue people in and lead them through the music. I learned that part of being a leader is knowing when to fall back and be more of a team player.

-When you’re not playing music, what do you like doing in your spare time?
I like watching Korean films or hanging out with my friends. We like riding tri-cycles.