2006 Essay Scholarship Winners

Mike Lawson • Features • February 9, 2011

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SUBJECT: “How A Music Education Has Made Me A Better Student

The following ten students are recipients of the 2006 essay scholarship, “How A Music Education Has Made Me A Better Student“.

Each student will receive a $1,000 scholarship award from SCHOOL BAND AND ORCHESTRA and co-sponsors, Alfred Publishing, American Music Conference, Hershey Fund Raising, National Association of Music Merchants, Yamaha Corporation of American and Avedis Zildjian Co.


Winning essays will be posted at a later date. Check this web-site September 1,2006 for a new essay scholarship. To the many thousands of students who entered the essay contest, and to their music directors, we thank you. SCHOOL BAND AND ORCHESTRA.

Sidney Davis sdavis@symphonypublishing.com Group Publisher

Symphony Publishing School Band and Orchestra

21 Highland Circle, Suite 1 Needham MA 02494. Tel: 800-964-5150 Extension 13 Fax: 781-453-9389


2006 Essay Scholarship Winners

Brian Lei Arlington Middle School Poughkeepsie, NY Grade 6 Age 11

Nicole Torosin McCracken Middle School Skokie, IL Grade 8 Age 13

Theresa Vargas Glenside Middle School Glendale Heights, IL Grade 6 Age 11

Taylor Noble Lakeview Jr. High School Dracut, MA Grade 8 Age 14

Chelsea Caldwell East Hoke Middle School Raeford, NC Grade 6 Age 11

Gregory Tidd Ocean Lakes School Virginia Beach, Va Grade 12 Age 17

Tyler Berbert College Park High School Pleasant Hill, CA Grade 9 Age 15

Noel Overkamp South High School Waukesha, WI Grade 12 Age 18

Mallory George Dardanelle High School Dardanelle, AR Grade 12 Age 17

Savanna Petricek Midwest City High School Midwest City, OK Grade 10 Age 16


(10 essays )

  1. Name: Savanna Petricek
  2. Age: 16
  3. School Name: Midwest City High School
  4. School City: Midwest city
  5. School State: Oklahoma(OK)



Playing musical instruments has definitely made me a better student and person. I was burned over 38% of my body at age 5 ? and was placed in foster care. I did not attend school until second grade and I was academically behind other children of my age. Playing musical instruments gives me a feeling of confidence that carries over into my other academic classes. I play the piano, the trumpet , mellophone and French horn.

Music allows me to tell my life story and gives me confidence in my school work especially in English and Math. I believe not only is English a language but music is also a language. Both music and English class can make you laugh and cry. Playing the French horn(my favorite instrument) has given me self-esteem, taught me to perform and has helped me to speak comfortably in front of large audiences. Playing musical instruments has promoted my social skills which helps me to do better academically in my other classes.

My early years started out slow with a long hospital stay, foster care, and academically and socially behind other children but playing various musical instruments has turned my life around. Playing the French horn has motivated me to do well in school, has given me self-discipline and organizational skills that have been extremely useful in my academic success. I am proud to say from my humble beginnings I am now a 4.0 student and I credit my success to playing musical instruments.

  1. Name: George  Mallory
  2. Age: 17
  3. School Name: Dardanelle High School
  4. School City: Dardanelle
  5. School State: Arkansas(AR)





It is clear that success in any area is reached through discipline, responsibility, motivation, and teamwork. Through learning to play a musical instrument, I believe that I have obtained these traits and they have, in turn, helped me to become a better student. Playing an instrument for several years has required significant effort to achieve success. Playing the trumpet has enhanced my work ethic, and I now have difficulties accepting anything less than perfection in all my pursuits.

Also, with my instrument, I have learned to listen to the sounds of the band, orchestra, or ensemble in order to better blend my pitches and create a more beautiful overall voice. As a student, I have applied this ability by listening to my peers in their opinions, beliefs, and methods of learning and adapting my own opinions, beliefs, and methods in order to foster a healthier learning environment.

Band has helped me to develop perseverance and competitiveness, has required me to achieve goals and meet deadlines, and has improved my skills in memorization, timing, and attention to detail. Through learning to play my trumpet, I have also become better at learning from those who have more experience than myself and recognizing when to follow and when to lead.

My playing an instrument has certainly been influential in developing distinct academic qualities. Lessons in leadership, perfection, self-improvement, and teamwork have, all in all, helped me to become a much better student.

  1. Name: Brian Lei
  2. Age: 11
  3. School Name: Arlington Middle School
  4. School City: Poughkeepsie
  5. School State: New York(NY)



The greatest gift that I got from my parents was the opportunity to learn how to play the violin and piano a few years ago. Learning these two musical instruments definitely made me a much better student that I was before.

My largest improvement was self-confidence. Before I played an instrument, I was too shy to give a presentation in front of a group of people. But then I played the piano in front of three0hundred students at a school meeting and was well received. More recently, I played a violin solo with a professional orchestra at a nursing home. I felt proud to serve the elderly in the community. After several performances, I grew more confident and self-assured.

Playing the violin and the piano also augment my memorization skills. This is useful when I have to study for quizzes and tests. Music has also helped me to concentrate, stay on task, and focus in class.

My organizational skills have also improved since I learned music. To play a piece of music well, a musician has to look ahead to plan for the upcoming notes, rhythm, and dynamics. Applying this to my life has enabled me to plan my daily schoolwork and busy schedule accurately and effectively. This helps so that my activities do not conflict with each other. Playing the violin and piano certainly made me a much better student. I highly recommend that very child should be exposed to music as part of their foundation.

  1. Name: Gregory Tidd
  2. Age: 17
  3. School Name: Ocean Lakes
  4. School City: Virginia Beach
  5. School State: Virginia(VA)





M- Memory is essential to all aspects of learning, including music. Being able to memorize the music, how many steps forward, backward, counting my steps, while playing my trumpet has made me a better student. A good memory pays off in everything in life.

U- Unity, that interconnection among my peers that taught me the importance of equality for all. We need to work together for the common good to make music happen.

S- Self-concept building with successes and accepting failures in music has made me believe in myself, stretching my talents to reach goals I thought were impossible.

I- Improved organization is a necessity to be able to do ?more? with ?less? time. Going to school, working and marching band, plus finding time to relax, would not happen if I wasn?t organized.

C- Cooperation and teamwork are also involved in band and school work. In bad we all have to cooperate to produce a quality sound whether it be on the field or in a concert.

A- Accountability means being responsible for my own actions. When I can be accountable for my actions and realize that I am part of the whole, I have done my job whether it be band or in my school work.

L- Leadership skills are fine tuned in bad and carried over to school, culminating in the successful completion of leadership workshops.

As you can see music has enriched my life and made me a better student. What a gift!

  1. Name: Tyler Berbert
  2. Age: 15
  3. School Name: College Park High School
  4. School City: Pleasant Hill
  5. School State: California(CA)



Of all my activities I?ve done as a student over the years, playing music has undoubtedly contributed the most to my improvement and success in the classroom. Aside from being an expressive, emotional outlet that sets me free from the daily stress of school, band has been a priceless, crucial teaching element for me in many ways. For example, I learned self-discipline and responsibility as I became able to make myself practice each night. As I continued to work with my other band members each day, music also taught me teamwork and cooperation.

Soon, as I started performing regularly, music often taught me how to cope with success and failure. Most importantly, by attending and speaking out in school board meetings that endangered our music programs, I took a huge step in learning academic initiative and courage. By participating in music on a regular basis, I continually built up my skills just like these over the years and used them to achieve a 4.0 GPA throughout junior high. Eventually, being active in band could help me enter and do well in college, too.

Reflecting back on over five thrilling years of playing music as a student, I?ve realized with awe what an enormous impact it?s made on my school life. Along with contributions and guidance from my family, teachers, and band mates, the skills I?ve acquired by playing music have become the deciding factors in my success both outside and inside the band room.

  1. Name: Noel Overkamp
  2. Age: 18
  3. School Name: South High School
  4. School City: Wakesha
  5. School State: Wisconsin(WI)



Playing the violin both as a soloist and as a member of various orchestras has helped me develop a strong sense of commitment and responsibility, which are important qualities for a student.

I have taken violin lessons for ten years. Each teacher I have studied under has reinforced the need for daily practice. I remember one teacher-only half-joking-saying, ?Only eat on days you practice?, but I have taken the underlying message to heart. I take time every day, even if only for a few minutes, to practice. Such devotion is crucial to maintaining my musical skills. The same is true of my studies. I set aside time every day for homework. Usually this is the first thing I do when I get home from school. This philosophy has helped me become a better student and musician.

Orchestral playing teaches other critical skills such as leadership and working as a group. As concertmaster of my high school orchestra, I have the responsibility to lead others. I am a role model to younger players, too, which is something I keep in mind during rehearsals and concerts. My experiences in school and other orchestras have also helped me to work in large groups. It is crucial that each player mesh with his or her section and with the rest of the orchestra. Often it is necessary in school to work with others on group projects, and orchestra has taught me to be both a leader and a collaborator.


  1. Name: Nicole Torosin
  2. Age: 13
  3. School Name : McCracken Middle School
  4. School City: Skokie
  5. School State: Illinois(IL)



Opening my flute case for the first time I didn?t know that I was actually opening a door to other things. For example being a better student. Ever since I was little I would get exceptionally nervous on tests. I would end up getting a bad grade, doing much worse than I knew I could. Now that I?m in band and I always have auditions and play in front of monstrous audiences; it makes tests look like fuzzy little bunnies. Mr. De Stefano and my private teacher Julie taught me a skill that always guides me like a candle in a pitch black room.

That single ray of light is not getting nervous; it?s just not worth it. Now my test grades are fantastic. Playing flute also improved my work ethic. Playing songs that feel like they?re hard enough for professionals takes a lot of practice time. In addition to the band songs I also participate in contests like IMEA. Some days I can practice an hour trying to perfect everything. When I joined band I started to give things my all. In school discussions I offer my opinion. I don?t whiz through homework.

I strive for perfection. In  a way I?m like an elephant pushing through a dense forest. Today when I look back at my decision to be in band I have no regrets. To think about what my life would be like without band is scary as coming face to face with a giant blue monster.

  1. Name: Theresa Vargas
  2. Age: 11
  3. School Name: Glenside Middle School
  4. School City: Glendale Heights
  5. School State: Illinois(IL)





Music takes effort. Effort takes time. Time takes patience. Learning to play a musical instrument is like learning another language-complete with its own unique vocabulary and brand-new alphabet. The benefits of playing a musical instrument reach far beyond the keys of my piano or my flute. Successful musicians and students share many things in common. Among these are the three essential elements of determination, discipline, and diligence. Determination says ? I can?? Discipline says ? I must??. Diligence says ? I will???

These three qualities create a better potential for success in both academics and music.

Academically speaking, the subject of mathematics is directly related to music notation. All musicians are well aware that playing music on any instrument involves converting fractions, counting, addition, and subtraction. Specific problems in my math textbook are easier because of my knowledge of musical note values. Playing a musical instrument has also helped to fuel my imagination in creative subjects, such as art and writing. Historical periods come alive, when set to music. I was intrigued to learn more about the Great Depression, for example, after hearing the song ?Pennies from Heaven?. I enjoy researching the eras in which my favorite composers and musicians lived.

Ironically not only has playing an instrument helped me be a better student, but academics has helped me to be a better musician. The experience of learning to first play an instrument and having your patience tested is a value beyond words, inspiring me to be a better student!

  1. Name: Taylor Noble
  2. Age: 14
  3. School Name: Lakeview Jr. High
  4. School City: Dracut
  5. School State: Massachusetts(MA)



Music has been part of my life for four years now with the saxophone. Music has made me a better student in many ways. Two important ones are, improving my time organization and increasing my self-confidence.

I will first address time organization. When you play an instrument you must have daily practice time. You do this even on days when you have other activities, homework, chores, etc. To effectively do this you must have a plan. I chose the same time to practice every day, which helps me remember. Once you have perfected time management with your music, you can use this skill to organize other things such as homework, projects and studying.

Raising self-confidence is another thing music has given me. Playing an instrument involves performing. First to a small audience, such as your teacher, peers, family, and later, once you have perfected (through practice) your skills, on the stage. The more often you perform the less self-conscious you are. It becomes easier to express your ideas to others in school. You find you are able to speak with self-assurance when giving oral presentations. I hesitate to say, it almost becomes fun. Certainly presenting to others is a life-long skill I will need throughout my school and professional career.

In conclusion, I feel that having music in my life has helped me in many ways. By increasing my time organization and self-confidence, it has given me skills that will help me throughout my educational career and professional future.

  1. Name: Chelsea Caldwell
  2. Age: 11
  3. School Name: East Hoke Middle School
  4. School City: Raeford
  5. School State: North Carolina(NC)



Playing a musical instrument has made me a better student in many ways. As I learn more and play better, I feel confident. Confidence helps me to try harder in other subjects because I know with work I will succeed.

Playing an instrument has helped me become more disciplined. I have learned to organize my time for my homework to make sure I have time to practice my clarinet. I take time to practice everyday; as a result, I learn to play my instrument better. People always tell me ?practice makes perfect?. I?m not perfect, but I have learned that when I discipline myself to practice not only my instrument but all my subjects, it does help me achieve my goals.

I used to be shy and nervous in front of a group or class. After learning how to sit-up straight, breathe correctly and play in front of others, I can now give an oral report in front of a class. This helps me to feel a sense of accomplishment.

My concentration and focus has improved since playing the clarinet. Concentrating on playing the correct notes at the right time, has helped me learn to keep my focus. These skills are very important with other school work and tests.

Keeping up with, taking care of an instrument, and practicing regularly has taught me responsibility. We need responsibility to keep up with school work and turn assignments in on time. I definitely believe playing an instrument made me a better student

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