By Mary Austin and Jamie Boeheim
“I feel like music is something that everyone can relate to, regardless of your background, and music is a great way to express your emotions,” said Jamesville-DeWitt High School senior Elizabeth DiGennaroand; “it’s something I really enjoy listening to and really enjoy having the privilege of participating in it.” DiGennaro, first chair trumpet player in both the J-DHS concert band and Syracuse Youth Orchestra, believes that music has made her a lot more driven and motivated to succeed; “once you’re successful at something, it makes you more motivated to keep being successful.” She also believes that her love for music has not only led her to learn to play an instrument, but has also introduced her to long-lasting friends.
DiGennaro currently is taking biology, literature, and French Advanced Placement courses. She is considering playing the trumpet professionally someday, so she applied to the Eastman School of Music, Juilliard School of Music, and Ithaca College. She also applied to Princeton University, Binghamton University, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, and University of Rochester as an undecided major. DiGennaro recently got accepted by Princeton University. If she decides against music, she could major in English or biology. Her favorite subject is English because it is very interesting and she has a strong writing ability. Also, she likes biology because “it’s very fascinating to see how the human body functions within itself”.
In addition of her recent acceptance into Princeton, her latest accomplishment is her first time selection to the 2014 All State Symphony Orchestra, whose performance was Dec. 7 at the Kodak Theater at the Eastern School of Music in Rochester, NY. All State is a contest that you qualify for by getting a perfect score on your NYSSMA solo, and being recommended by a teacher. In October the musicians are notified, the guest conductor sends out a selection of music to all participants that they must learn to play perfectly by Dec. 4, which is when they meet with the other players for the first time. The end result is a massive band of approximately 900 students performing the challenging songs they have worked on during their own time and the three days they have together on Dec. 4, 5, and 6. The curtain rises at 10 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 7 and they finally get to show off all of their hard work.
To achieve her goals she has had help from several people. The most important influences were her parents. DiGennaro’s family has always been involved in the arts; her mother is a professional flutist and also teaches the flute at Syracuse University and Le Moyne College. Also, her father is the concert band director at Homer High School. Because her parents both play an instrument, she was persuaded to play as well. At first, when she was approaching 4th grade, DiGennaro wanted to play the saxophone, but her parents thought she should challenge herself and play a more difficult instrument.
Besides her parents, two other people have helped as well. One of them is her private lesson teacher, the conductor of Symphor!a, John Raschella. Raschella was apart of the Syracuse Symphony and helps DiGennaro improve her skills. Along with Raschella, J-DHS band teacher Dan Blumenthal also coaches her. He has been coaching her since freshman year, and has also been one of her strongest influences to look up to when it comes to music. Mr. Blumenthal said her hard work pays off because she is first chair in both orchestras.
One day, when DiGennaro was in third grade, her father came home from work with all of his instruments and let her try them out. “I chose the trumpet because it seemed to be the best physical match for me,” says DiGennaro. She doesn’t regret her decision on playing the trumpet because, “we usually get the fun parts in orchestras,” said DiGennaro.
Mr. Blumenthal believes DiGennaro has grown to love playing the trumpet; “when you have a passion for something you want to do it more, so I’m sure that has contributed to the time she has put into her into her instrument.” Mr. Blumenthal added how she, for the past three years, she has been playing at a level 6, which is the most challenging level. “Her solos have been getting progressively harder and she has risen to that.”
What makes her so driven? “With music there’s an end goal and having the constant motivation of being the best you can be by improving your playing and your work ethic to make you sound better.” DiGennaro had a point in time during the fifth grade when she felt like quitting because she felt as if she had “no motivation,” and didn’t like practicing. However, she kept playing because she hoped that it was going to get better. It did, and she has not regretted the decision of continuing to play at any moment of her music career.