NAISer's Stories: So-Called ‘Three-Minutes’ Enthusiasm Walks Me to Johns Hopkins University
The true meaning of art is to make people happy,
to inspire and empower them. --Haydn
NAISer this time is about NAIS's graduate, Lin, who has got the offer from Johns Hopkins university (the Peabody school of music). He is going to share his story about music with us.
The connection with music
——the way of feeling life
In true music, there is a thousand feelings of the heart, much better than words.
I have been into music for a long time. I can say that I have been interested in since junior high school. But who really got me into music was a group of like-minded teachers and friends I met in NAIS. One of them was Alfred, who was the leader of our band, Rebuild Abstraction, and he was the one who taught me what is real music, what is rock, what is a band. He was like my first teacher in music. I knew Alfred before Rebuild Abstraction was established. At that time everyday, we discussed together what kind of song we were going to write, and what kind of band we were going to set. During that process, we experienced a lot of doubt and difficulties. It was not until the beginning of 12th grade, we formed our own band. It was Alfred who lit my dream, and gave the chance to experience the happiness in playing music with a group of people.
Speaking of composing, I started with my first band song "New World", which is inspired by the doubts and objections I faced then. My parents thought I was a flash in the pan, my teacher thought I didn't study hard, and my classmates thought I was a poor musician. At that time, I was very upset and wanted to prove myself. In the process of catharsis, I wrote this song.
In my view, song are outlets of mood. I've been writing ‘Breath’, an art song for chorus currently, which was inspired by a scene I saw. After one night-class, I remembered at that time it was already very late. I walked on the road and I saw a picture of a beautiful landscape, lampposts illuminating the quiet night and winter fog adding a hazy atmosphere. That scene deeply attracted me and shocked me. There was no one around, but the sound of cars throttling in the distance and the noise of planes landing overhead. The coldness stimulated my brain, but the light from the street lamp warmed my heart. It was a paradox, but at that moment I felt myself in winter as a warm being, and that one way of being alive is to breathe. I wanted to take the scene down, but I couldn't draw, I couldn't photograph, so I recorded it with music. At that time, the light from the street lamp reminds me of the spotlight on the stage, and the chorus is also a way to feel life. When a person's breath flows out of the nasal cavity and the other person's senses receive it, it is the best proof of the activity of life.
When the next NAIS concert comes, I will make the song better as a spring gift to the NAIS choir.
The association with NAIS
——the stage to display talent
Music is a very subjective thing. There will always be people who like your music, there will always be people who do not like it, but we always need to take a calm heart to view this.
When I studied in a Chinese-system junior high school, many classmates visited NAIS, and I was also curious. So I paid a visit. The NAIS school not only pays attention to the students' achievement but also to the students' talents development. At that time, my mother also thought that there was room in NAIS for me to display my talent. In fact, I did not understand it at that time when I haven’t started professional development in music. However, as I grew in NAIS. I was more able to understand my mother's choice and I was more grateful to NAIS school for providing me with high-quality resources and support.
For 3 years, the NAIS concert gave me a profound impact. Schools and the students spent much time and effort to prepare, and students are enjoying the process. NAIS gives me an infinite stage to grow and blossom, to accumulate experience, to communicate with the teachers, and to understand the true meaning of music. The influencer on my music should be Dr. Mamedov (the music teacher in NAIS). Without him, I am not sure if I would choose music as my major. He is a knowledgeable man, which wins my admiration. He can deeply analyze music and integrate understandings from different perspectives, including theory, performance, literature, science and technology, so as to make music more layered and meaningful. I am very grateful that Dr. Mamedov has always told me during my musical growth that music is a very subjective thing. There will always be people who like your music, and there will always be people who don't like your music, but we always need to treat it with a calm heart. So it allows me to be myself with all my heart, make music that I like, make myself unique, and I think that's what a great school like Johns Hopkins values.
In fact, a lot of the music was created in NAIS's life. Both classical and popular. Some have been performed on campus and some have been performed off campus. At present, I am also preparing a new song for my graduation, so as to draw a satisfactory endind to my three years of high school life in NAIS.
Be accepted to Johns Hopkins university
——never refrain on the way to dream
Although I don't know what will happen in the future, I firmly believe that I will continue to compose.
In fact, I was very surprised when I got the offer from the Peabody school of music at Johns Hopkins university. Because Johns Hopkins is a top university. There is an interesting incident happened in my ninth grade. Then I was quite confused, didn't know what to do in the future. I asked my parents what was the goal for me. My parents are not "ambitious parents" of that kind, so they said they hope I can grow happily. Because my mother knew I like music, and she knew from other places that the music at Johns Hopkins was very good, she just told me that you should go to study here in the future. I thought it was just a joke, but I began to plan for this goal in my heart. Finally, through my own efforts, I actually entered the dream school, which is an amazing thing.
To pursue music or your own dream, I think you must first think big, be determined in your goals, and then decide that you can be scared of nothing. In fact, I didn't know what I wanted to do in the future. I always thought that if I could write music, tell my story and express my feelings, it would be great if I could convey them to others. However, with the growth of age and experience, I am clearer of my direction. For me, music is the dream of my life and the development of my career. Although I don't know what will happen in the future, I firmly believe that I will continue to compose until I die. Life is always about crossing the great sea, though experiencing thunder and rain. Stick to our dream and finally we will arrive at the other side.
Lin in Dr. Mamedov’s eyes
What is your impression of Anthony Lin?
I believe Anthony is goal-oriented, well-organized, highly motivated, and always works hard to expand his musical expertise and knowledge in and out of the classroom. Anthony does well in approaching new academic and creative tasks and strives to obtain an all-inclusive music education.
What is his attitude towards music?
Anthony is a type of student who lives and breathes music and will do so effectively for a living in the future. He is a rising composer, whose critical thinking skills and career-long habits of self-motivated learning will bring him a plethora of success in the world of music education and music composition.
What impressed you most about him?
There are many unique traits to Anthony’s musical studies that I, and many others in the field of music, find impressive. First, he has a vast knowledge of music as a performative and an academic field of study and excels at critical discussions of current musicological and theoretical trends of modern-day research, as well as performance practice traditions of Western classical and American popular music. Second, he has a great understanding of music philosophy and the subjective nature of music as a speculative phenomenon. He has already started establishing unique viewpoints of holistic music education processes previously not seen in academia, something that led to his research accepted to an international 2020 Working in Music Conference. Third, he does well to understand and adapt to conducting under a variety of performative circumstances. His musical interpretation is beyond the typical capabilities of an eighteen-year-old student. Finally, what I think is most impressive, is the fact that he already established his own compositional style. His compositional portfolio is remarkable and was of much interest to the music composition faculty of Johns Hopkins University.
How did you help him along the way?
As a music teacher at the NAIS, my goal is to provide all students with holistic music education – a student-centered learning process for music-making, which creates an equal balance between content-specific academic and performative disciplines. Through the four semesters at NAIS, I taught college-equivalent courses, which include AP Music Theory, Honors Music History I: Western Classical Music, Honors Music History II: American Popular Music, and Research Methods in Music, in addition to college-preparatory courses, which include Music Appreciation I, II, and Music Technology. I also direct the NAIS instrumental ensemble and choir. Anthony has been a part of all of this. Anthony, along with other students who actively pursue music, whether as a profession or an elective, can carve out their musical future at the NAIS and beyond.
What preparations have been made
before the application?
Due to the competitive nature of highly-selective institutions, my goal was to build Anthony’s music credentials around his interests through professional development opportunities, performance experiences, practical work pursuits in the fields of music theory and composition, and extracurricular activities. Speaking from the perspective of education, Anthony took a total of nine content-specific courses that I taught at the school. He has also completed a HarvardX program titled “First Nights: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and the 19th Century Orchestra” and finished his first music theory college course, titled “Getting Inside Harmony”. He is on the path to complete the Certificate of Advanced Music Studies, after a successful examination in music theory and history, which he will take in May of this year. In terms of music performance, Anthony had numerous opportunities to play, sing, and conduct at the NAIS music concerts. We had a total of eight concerts, and Anthony was an integral part of all the performances. He served as a soloist, accompanist, and an ensemble member. More importantly, he conducted the NAIS instrumental ensemble and choir, both separately and collaboratively. Through the music-related events at the NAIS, Anthony conducted classical, traditional, and popular music. He additionally received third place at the Shanghai 9th International Arts Festival. Practical work in music theory and composition included his duties as a composer assistant, where he helped me arrange music for NAIS high school instrumental ensemble and choir, transcribe music for the NAIS band, and assist with creating original music for school-based concerts. He has also served as a middle school music tutor, and AP-level music theory tutor. He is likewise an integral part of the NAIS Music Computation Lab, a group of students who conduct research based on their musical interests. Anthony’s works appeared at two international conferences. As for extracurricular activities, Anthony is the president of the NAIS Music Club and is a vital part of the NAIS Band, a club that performs modern popular music.
I must say, however, that this is merely a beginning, and there is no end to preparation. Johns Hopkins University is a competitive institution, and once accepted, the amount of workload merely increases. Therefore, Anthony is currently in the process of preparing his musical compositions for international compositional competitions. He is additionally writing a book chapter on music philosophy and is soon to complete a series of rigorous exams on music theory and history. Furthermore, he is finishing another HarvardX course, titled “19th-Century Opera: Meyerbeer, Wagner, & Verdi”, and is in the preparation stages of completing a series of educational professional development courses administered by Columbia University.
What problems did you encounter during the application process? How to solve it?
We did not encounter any problems with the application process. Johns Hopkins University, as the majority of the schools, has a very straightforward application with step-by-step instructions available online. Students, teachers, and administrators have access to it, and the admission office on the side of Johns Hopkins University is always available to answer any questions.
What suggestions do you have for him?
I think Anthony should continue growing as a musician and enhance his learning in all spheres of music. He should actively pursue research, learn new content, and build connections by attending out-of-school workshops and conferences. I believe Anthony should continue expanding his portfolio as a performing musician, educator, and most importantly – composer. I will continue to work with him even when he goes to America since we have a few collaborative research projects going on at the moment.
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