One of the young talented students in our program, (#JazzArtsAcademy) has been so totally consumed with music and so energized that it seems he has taken to finding out about every program and youth orchestra and opportunity that he can possibly join. Diego is quite an impressive young man and equally impressive is a family who offers such positive reinforcement and are so very supportive. Among the various conversations I have had with his father, I have come to recognize the nurturing and positive support he gives his son. When he wrote to me about Diego's recent accomplishments and awards I decided to offer my own thoughts and tidbits of advice.
A proud and happy father wrote:
Guess who won Best Jazz Soloist in his School’s Nat’l Comp in “Music in the Parks” at Hershey Park?!? Diego won the “Best Solo Performer” in Jazz. His Jazz Ensemble took the top Prize and his Band took 2nd Place. He had some Flute Solos as well.
You and your Jazz Program changed everything when he started last Summer. I cannot thank you enough. Wish him luck at Julliard today!
And then the next day....
I wanted to take a couple of minutes to share what was an incredible 24-48 hrs. for Diego. As you know he, because of all the work you have done for him, won the Jazz Solo Award.
Many witnessed his initial disappointment where he thought he failed. Wrong!
Less than 24 Hours later he was in a Warm-up room at Julliard, competing against children from across the planet! When we entered there was another young man blasting away on his Flute. Man, this kid was good! I saw D started to get a little intimidated but he began to warm up. At one point they appeared to be battling! It was awesome to hear!He felt he performed well but wants to better control his nerves. (He said at one point he was shaking!) What results from Julliard is not important right now. I just wanted to share with you his experiences, and again express our gratitude. None of this was possible without all of you.
And here is what I wrote to him in return:
Thank you for including me in the news of your son and his progress, his successes and challenges, and the pursuit of his dreams. I am very impressed with this young man and also of you and the family support you provide.
Diego is experiencing what every musician goes through. The nervousness, the daunting sense of competition, and the self-doubt, are all challenges to be embraced along this journey. As a young man (perhaps in 8th grade or so) I myself can remember performing solo in front of about 100 people although I was terribly sick with a bad flu and 103 fever. I insisted to my parents that I had to show up and perform ...and so I did, scared to death that I would mess up or collapse, but I got through it and learned some important lessons along the way.
I have found that the more prepared one is, the less likely there is any reason to be nervous. To be that prepared is a long and lonely journey for sure. Ultimately it is a wonderfully rewarding one, but it is a journey nonetheless filled with much introspection, self-awareness and critical thinking. It is the mistakes that show us how to improve. It is the challenges we overcome now that give us confidence in the future. It is the commitment and passion that enables us to continue day after day.
Luis, here's to you and your family for giving Diego the opportunities to fulfill his dreams.
I am reminded of a conversation that we had with Esperanza Spalding when we arranged for a visit with the Academy students a few years ago. I summed it up and wrote it down and have shared it with many of our students ever since...
I am sure Diego will continue to shine. We wish him all the success in the world and we are proud to have him in our program.
All the best,