Valuing the YoungArts Recognition
Valuing the YoungArts Recognition
My son Daniel was a senior in high school in 2007 when he learned about the YoungArts awards. He managed to find time, in the midst of an incredibly busy fall semester, to apply.
Much to his delight, he received a cash merit award along with a certificate in jazz saxophone. Of course, his first reaction was to be disappointed that he hadn’t been selected to fly to Florida YoungArts Week (the national finals). But once his high school as well as newspapers in our hometown area of Metro Denver got wind of his accomplishment, he let himself bask in the recognition. A ceremony the following spring at the Denver Art Museum brought together all the YoungArts Colorado honorees to celebrate. It was a sweet, added bonus.
“I received the YoungArts recognition at a critical juncture in my high school career,” Daniel recalls. “At the time, I was submitting my pre-screen auditions to schools all over the country, and while I was feeling pretty good about my ability as a saxophone player and knew how I stacked up against other sax players in the state of Colorado after three years in All-State, I had no perspective on how I compared with players across the country. Receiving the award gave me renewed confidence going into my pre-screens and live auditions. I felt that I had only to play my best to have a significant shot at getting into any of the schools I was interested in.” Daniel and I both suspect that the YoungArts Award helped provide the nine schools he applied and was accepted to, with the impetus to look more seriously at his applications and auditions.
Because of his academic as well as musical talents, Daniel went on to capture other recognitions and awards at graduation. But it was the YoungArts acknowledgment in particular that I noticed him continuing to include on job résumés, bios, and websites during his initial years as a jazz saxophone performance major at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music.
Spreading the Wealth
From Daniel’s perspective, YoungArts is unique because “it rewards musicians for dedication to their art at a young age.” He adds, “I think a lot of young musicians don't feel like they necessarily have to get super serious about their craft until college. YoungArts recognizes those rare individuals who take it that seriously at a younger age. It's also really outstanding that YoungArts recognizes musicians for composing as well as for their performance ability, because especially in the jazz world these days, you have to excel at both to be successful.”
Now that I work with prospective music majors through MajoringInMusic.com, I can better understand the wisdom in the tiering of YoungArts awards. This approach supports a number of accomplished students. It allows them to be recognized in different categories and at varying levels of achievement. As a result, they are all able to gain a taste of success through the experience of national recognition. This in turn inspires several students, not just one or two, to take their talents to increasingly higher levels. And from a practical standpoint, it offers several deserving individuals a valuable entry onto a budding résumé that will garner a second look.
Bio: Barbra Weidlein is co-founder of MajoringInMusic.com, a resource for prospective music majors. She has been working with high school and college students in the educational publishing field for almost 25 years. Her son Daniel, a jazz performance major with a recording minor, will graduate from USC Thornton School of Music in May, 2012. His jazz-inspired trio, Vintage Modernists, recently released its debut album, Cityscape.