I had yet
to win a single music competition before I entered the Jazz Studies program in
the Department of Music Flagship at the University of North Florida.
last long, though, thanks to the outstanding music faculty at UNF. My
self-confidence has grown along with the number of awards I’ve received. Just
this summer, I won the overall talent competition of the Generation Next Youth
Talent competition at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. My experience at UNF has
been a turning point in my life, and I am becoming a more confident musician
When I was
a student at Lake Brantley High School, I heard several UNF faculty members when
they played at All-State in Tampa. Seeing their talent made me realize something
— they had a lot to teach, and I had a lot to learn. I spoke with them, and they
were really approachable and willing to speak with me about the UNF music
after that, I visited the campus and was drawn in by its natural beauty. I
looked at a few other universities, but none could compare to UNF — my first
around music, I always wanted to be a musician. I even had my first performance
when I was seven years old. My dad is a very talented bass player who has been
a great example of what an outstanding musician should look like. We’ve always
had a studio in our home, and the music business has always been a part of my
life. I never really considered doing anything else. However, I lacked confidence
in my musical abilities and didn’t have a good practice technique. My
professors at UNF taught me how to practice correctly, which proved to the turning
point in my musical evolution.
doubt, the most transformational experience for me has been the one-on-one
instruction I’ve received from UNF music faculty, especially Lynne Arriale for
piano and Michelle Amato for voice. They have become more than professors to
me. They have helped me grow as a person and mature as a musician. I’ve also been
able to perform extensively as a member of the Presidential Trio and in UNF
combos and jazz bands every semester.
All of this
experience has bolstered my self-confidence. It prompted me to enter the
Generation Next Youth Talent competition at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival this
I entered at
the last minute and was honored when I was selected as one of the 15
semi-finalists to perform at the festival. I was humbled to be one of three
finalists. I was blown away when I won the overall competition with my unique
Herbie Hancock composition of “Eye of the Hurricane.” I didn’t have high hopes
for winning when I first entered. However, my UNF training helped me impress
the judges against some very talented competition.
the past few years, I’ve done more in the music world than I could’ve imagined
when I was younger. I’ve formed my own trio and currently play at many
different venues in the Jacksonville and Orlando areas. Ultimately, I’d like to
form a jazz group in New York City, record a live album, tour the world and
teach jazz students. I don’t know whether these goals can be fully satisfied,
but UNF is giving me a good shot at making it all happen.
experience at UNF has been a turning point in my life. I expect to graduate in
2012 and then plan to pursue a doctorate. One day, I want teach at the
university level and continue performing, much like the talented UNF faculty
who helped guide me.
taught at the UNF Music Camp and the UNF Piano Camp. I had so much fun teaching
the students because they looked up to me and were so eager to learn more. I knew
then that this is what I wanted to do.
I want to be a professor and give other students
the type of guidance that I received at UNF.