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Middle School Musician Spotlight

We're so pleased to have violinist/vocalist Ami Paul and bass clarinet player Jess Vance as our inaugural featured Middle School musicians.

Here's what Ami shared with us:

What instruments have you tried playing, and what instruments do you play regularly now? Is there another instrument you'd like to try sometime? (Vocals count, too!) I have only ever played the violin and I am also in chorus. I think that it would be very cool to learn how to play the guitar and as well as staying in chorus and orchestra. What school ensembles are you in now?

I am in chorus and in orchestra and I think that both are very fun and I enjoy both of them.

What school ensembles have you participated in previously?

I have been in orchestra for three years and this is going to be my fourth and I have been in chorus for one year and this is going to be my second. I have previously been in the fourth and fifth grade plays/musicals at General Wayne Elementary School.

Just for fun, imagine that you could instantly download serious, master-level skills in any one (but only one!) area of music. You go to sleep and then you wake up and you’re suddenly a virtuoso at one musical thing. What would you want that one thing to be?

I would want to wake up and be able to sing so well it would win me a Grammy. I think that this would be really cool because I want to be a singer when I grow up and it is better to start sooner rather than later.

How has the pandemic changed your experience as a young musician?

The pandemic has changed me as a young musician because it has been really frustrating to not be able to hear anyone except for my chorus teacher, Mrs. Byrne, and my orchestra teacher Mr. Cellini play or sing. What music do you listen to for fun? Who are some of your favorite musicians?

I usually listen to the Julie and the Phantoms soundtrack which is a show on Netflix and a bunch of songs by Billie Eilish and all of my other favorite songs. My favorite musicians are Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, and Katy Perry. What advice would you give to a younger musician or to a younger student who’s thinking about becoming a musician?

Advice I would give to younger musicians is if you want to do something, like audition for a school musical or something, then you should do it because you don’t have a reason not to try.

What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of music?

One of my hobbies outside of the music program is karate. In karate I am a black belt and I am going to be testing for my second degree black belt very soon and I have already completed my written test for that. Another one of my hobbies is drawing. I love to draw so much and it brings out my personality. You can draw whatever you want and everyone has their own drawing style, and even if someone says that they can’t draw, they can if they put their mind to it.

Thanks, Ami, and GOOD LUCK with your karate test! You make your Great Valley community proud.

Next up, here's what we learned about Jess, who also sent us a photo!

What instruments have you tried playing, and what instruments do you play regularly now? Is there another instrument you'd like to try sometime? (Vocals count, too!)

I have played the clarinet and now I play the bass clarinet. I have tried to play the ukulele multiple times but I don't think I want to play it anymore. I would love to learn how to play flute.

What school ensemble(s) are you in now?

I am currently in the Generals band.

What school ensemble(s) have you participated in previously?

I played in the Blue and White band in 6th grade and I played for two years in General Wayne.

Just for fun, imagine that you could instantly download serious, master-level skills in any one (but only one!) area of music. You go to sleep and then you wake up and you’re suddenly a virtuoso at one musical thing. What would you want that one thing to be?

If I could have one master level skill it would be perfect pitch. I would most likely use it to impress my friends. I also really like the show America's Got Talent so I could join the show.

How has the pandemic changed your experience as a young musician?

The pandemic has definitely changed a lot of things for me. It is much harder to ask questions when I have them. When I was in school I could just directly ask the teacher a question but now it is so much harder. Also we don't get to play with the whole band which really helped me when we were back in school because I could follow along with them and let the other instruments guide me and help me be successful.

Are there any sounds that you are drawn to?

I particularly like the sound of being in a giant open room and hearing the pouring rain hit the roof. I find it really relaxing especially when there is complete silence in the room. I also really enjoy the sound my figure skates make when they hit a good edge. It almost sounds like a zipper.

What advice would you give to a younger musician or to a younger student who’s thinking about becoming a musician?

I would tell a younger musician to always practice. The more you practice the better you will get. Always listen to your conductor or teacher for any advice they give you. It can really help you learn from your mistakes and become a better musician overall. Also don't get upset when you mess up, everyone messes up and messing up is just part of learning. I would highly encourage starting to learn an instrument. It's really fun and you get to meet a ton of new people. Also it could be a good party trick when you are older!

What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of music?

I figure skate competitively. I have done it for a while now and just recently joined a synchronized skating team of really nice skaters. I also really enjoy sewing. Sometimes I just fool around and make random things. Painting is also something I do for fun. I really enjoy just listening to music and letting my imagination take me to another world.

Jess, you're a remarkably well-rounded, multi-talented person. THANKS so much to you and Ami for being brave and stepping into our spotlight!


Middle schoolers, we need to hear from you! It doesn't matter if you feel like you're not (yet) the world's greatest musician, and it doesn't matter if you don't plan to make a career out of music. Every single one of your voices is essential. If you're interested in being a spotlight feature, have one of your grown-ups contact GVMPA member Keet Leibowitz (keet.leibowitz@gmail.com or text 484-680-8666) to set up a safe, socially distant interview.


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