Accelerando Students Share Their Thoughts

The students in the inaugural class of Accelerando were asked to reflect on what their first year in the program has meant to them. Here's what they had to say:

Being in Accelerando for only one year has already changed my life. Before I was accepted in this program, I had no idea where I should begin in order to pursue a career in music. Accelerando has made my dreams a reality; I am actively training to become a future orchestral musician.

When I was in 7th grade, I first visited the symphony with my school thinking how amazing and unrealistic it would be to play there one day. Ever since I was accepted into Accelerando, I achieved what I previously believed was impossible and thus performed on the symphony stage for five separate occasions and studied with a member from the symphony.

I am forever grateful for the chances that Accelerando has given me, and I hope to continue growing as a musician. After this past year, I have definitely seen an improvement in my own playing. Having a teacher who is an orchestral musician, I am able to receive more guided lessons. Probably the most notable aspect of my teacher’s instruction is that she teaches me how to practice and further improve in the future, rather than only focusing on fixing details specific to only one piece. 

As a musician from an underrepresented culture, I along with the other Accelerando students need to show the necessity of musicians from diverse backgrounds in the Western classical music world. Although I have supportive parents who encourage me to study music, my culture does not identify classical music as a career worth pursuing. I have often been criticized for my passion in music and have been told to consider jobs relating to other fields like medical or engineering that would be more “practical” occupations. However, I highly disagree with their criticism.

I would like to prove that classical music is not culture-specific or “unpractical,” but rather a field that connects people from all walks of life — something just as worthy as career choices that are seen as more socially acceptable by my culture. My drive and Accelerando’s commitment to legitimize the field of classical music in not only my culture, but also other cultures with similar ideas, will help bring diversity into orchestras.

Looking into the future, I now will begin preparing for all my college auditions next year. I could not be more fortunate than to be a part of such a program that will help me accomplish all my dreams and make them a reality. Accelerando has already lined up a plethora of events for this coming year, and I am so excited to experience it all.

— Aalia, flutist, tenth grade

My first year of Accelerando was very challenging. I did many activities that pushed me, but also made me a better musician. I was in the Music City Youth Orchestra, the W.O. Smith School’s Strings Smith orchestra, I took music theory lessons at Blair School of Music, and I took private lessons from Ms. Jessica Blackwell. All of these activities helped me improve as a musician.

MCYO and Strings Smith increased my knowledge of orchestra terms and how to play different styles of music. The music theory class was taught by Dr. Deakin. We weren’t taught traditionally, by the teacher teaching us from the front of the room, but we went at our own pace, which was amazing. I learned many things about music theory that I thought that I would never know. 

My private lesson teacher is an amazing and wonderful teacher. I have never learned so fast and improved so much in one year before. Accelerando has changed how I look at music. Before, I thought music was a bunch of sounds and notes put together to make noise sound beautiful. Now I know that music is a lot more complex. It involves history, math and great understanding of pitch, rhythm and theory.

— Antonio, violinist, seventh grade

My first year in the Accelerando program has been very challenging, but also very beneficial and life-changing. I have learned so much from all the classes I have attended and from the peers and professionals around me. My highlights of the year have been going to symphony concerts, playing in my youth orchestra, playing in the New World Symphony masterclasses, and watching all the new friends I have made through the program grow as people and as musicians.

I have grown so much as a musician because of my teachers and the many opportunities I have had. Accelerando has given me a view of what it is like to be a professional musician, and I have seen and been taught what I need to do to become successful after my high school years. I have also been able to learn lots of things other than playing my instrument, like composing from music theory.

Overall, my experience of the program has been extremely good. Without Accelerando, I don’t think I would have been able to find my love for music and my desire to be in a symphony and dedicate my life to music. I am so thankful to be in the program, not only because of my amazing experiences, but also the amazing, lifelong friends I have made and will continue to make as more people become a part of this extraordinary program. I am excited to continue this year in the program and come closer to reaching my goals.

— Isabel, flutist, ninth grade

I have grown exponentially as a musician. My sight-reading skills have also improved. The Accelerando program has influenced my life in many ways. I am way busier in my schedule with music-related activities, in addition to school work. The entire experience has taught me how to manage time better with different activities.

This program is wonderful and has changed my life exponentially. It has made me a lot happier over this year. I hope the program continues in future years and helps me achieve my goal of becoming a professional musician.

— Bernard, trombonist, ninth grade

The first year of Accelerando was a great year overall. It has forced me to see what potential I truly have for a talent unknown to me until almost six years ago. In this first year, I participated in my school’s orchestra, the Mid-State ensemble for ninth and tenth grade, and the Music City Youth Orchestra, and I got to experience firsthand master classes with members of the New World Symphony. I also got to experience a solo performance for the first time ever at the June recital commemorating the Inaugural Class of Accelerando, which includes myself.

Among those few experiences, I also got to witness the first auditions for the Accelerando second class, and I knew that I was once in that position of all those kids and teens, nervous and afraid of the outcome of what may be a life-changing audition or a disaster-ridden heartbreak.

The top highlights for this year had to be the master classes with the New World Symphony members, the Accelerando Intensive Music Workshop and the Accelerando recital. The master classes helped me in becoming a better musician, musically and theoretically. Watching other students play and the advice the members of the NWS gave them helped me watch my musicality and become a better practitioner of my instrument and the music assigned to me.

The Intensive Music Workshop helped me expand my skills as a learner of basic and advanced music theory. It helped me achieve and understand what was taught to me prior to the beginning of summer. The recital shaped my way of performing in front of an actual crowd of people. I had never gotten to experience the true form of a solo, as I had played solos with ensembles. I want to keep experiencing these types of opportunities and for others to experience the same thing.

When I first started out in Accelerando, I had (and still have) some minor fixes in my positioning and tuning. My musicality also needed some work, and my teacher pinpointed my problems. I feel like I have improved a lot since entering the program. I still need some brushing, but my minor fixing has reduced to small things that are getting really hard to fix or get rid of. My tone quality and intonation improved vastly as the year went on, and my musicality and positioning have also become vastly improved as I have walked down the days of the year.

My teacher, Mr. Christopher Farrell, has helped me improve small things, and I have become more aware of what I am doing correctly and what I need to work on. The Accelerando program has helped me and the five other students progress vastly and become better musicians and better at even practicing! We recently welcomed four new students into our Accelerando family, and Accelerando will help them as it helped my fellow five inaugural students and I in becoming better musicians for a brighter future.

Accelerando is also a good program to encourage diversity in orchestras, as only a small percentage of musicians in orchestras and symphonies nationwide and worldwide are racial minorities. I can speak for my Hispanic heritage and say that usually symphony orchestra musician is not a career at the top of many Hispanic children’s lists. Accelerando, through its encouragement of diversity, is helping minorities gain a voice in a world where we don’t usually have the upper hand. Accelerando is an amazing program and has definitely reached out to the people who want to show they are not just a minority, but also talented people.

— Emily, violist, ninth grade