Spotlight Series

Spotlight Series: January 2022

By January 21, 2022January 31st, 2022No Comments

The Colorado Springs Conservatory’s Gap Year Program is designed for college music students who choose to take a year off from their studies or for students who have just graduated high school and will delay starting their college career due to COVID, financial restraints or other extenuating circumstances.  Gap Year students experience an immersive program of core music classes, lessons, studio classes and performance opportunities, as well as partnership and community projects with Oberlin College and Conservatory.

This month, we’d like to shine our spotlight on THREE of our 2022 Gap Year Students…

Sophia Peterie | Caleb Powell | Maya West

Sophia Peterie

Sophia Peterie

Sophia, how long have you attended Colorado Springs Conservatory?

I have attended CSC since 2018, so about four years now!

What have you studied/are studying at CSC?

Currently, I am taking classes for Piano, Bass, Music History, Ear Training, AP Theory, Piano Pedagogy, and Jazz Ensemble. Previously, I have studied Guitar, Advanced Theory, Studio, and Recording Arts.

Why did you choose to attend CSC for a Gap Year, and what are your plans after you complete the Gap Year program?

After a year of virtual learning due to COVID, I was definitely ready to seize the opportunity to take some in-person classes! I was able to take a year off school, but still focus on furthering my Piano and Theory skills for Royal Conservatory.

My plan is to head to England for university, majoring in Art History, my chosen career field is Art Conservation. My family is considering moving to the UK as well, so the Gap Year should give us enough time to get everything in order and we can all move out there together.

How has the Gap Year program prepared you for your future?

One of my many goals for the future is to get a Royal Conservatory of Music teaching certificate, so I can teach piano as a side gig. Both my piano lessons and Piano Pedagogy class have provided me with skills to work towards reaching that goal.

What are some of your fondest memories of your time at CSC?

I have so many fond memories from CSC, but some that definitely stand out are Summer Gigs and Jazz Nites. Being able to perform and connect with peers and mentors, when you’re all doing something you love, is such an amazing experience!

A specific memory for me is a 2019 Jazz Nite. A group of us had been gigging all summer, so we became pretty close, and everyone was really hyped to show off all of our hard work, but in a more formal manner this time.  Afterwards, we all felt really good about the performance, so the group went for ice cream to celebrate, and we hung out in the street till late at night. The whole night is a really happy memory for me.

Did you study or perform music at your high school as well?  If so, how?

I was actually homeschooled! I began taking piano lessons with a neighbor at age four, and then in freshman year I enrolled at the Conservatory. CSC not only aided me in refining my piano skills, but also gave me the opportunity to branch out and try new instruments, socialize, learn Music Theory, and participate in many performances and recitals.

In what kinds of ways has your time at CSC prepared you for your future?

I was offered some amazing teaching opportunities at CSC. I have volunteered on Saturday mornings as a teacher’s aide for the Piccolo Program, and for beginner and intermediate summer Piano Camps. Before lockdown, I even taught my own private piano lesson. These really provided me with such valuable teaching experience.

Aside from music, I’ve also learned an array of real life skills in my time here; collaboration, patience, discipline, spontaneity, and navigating difficult situations.

What are your dreams for the future?

After finishing an Undergraduate in Art History in the UK, I’d love to get my Master’s and begin work in Art Conservation! Hopefully, I’ll also be teaching piano on the side, keeping up with music, and traveling. I think it’d be pretty neat to play gigs at weddings and funerals, too, so even though I won’t be majoring in music, I definitely still plan on it being a large part of my life.

What advice would you give to a peer considering attending Colorado Springs Conservatory?

Be open minded and go for it! This is a collaborative and creative, safe space. You can use your time for whatever you please, musically. So if you’ve been pondering trying a different instrument, joining an ensemble/gaining performance experience, or even just beginning your musical journey, this is definitely the place to do it!

Who has been your favorite mentor and/or inspiration in your music and performance journey?

Two mentors from CSC have really stood out for me; Dr. Adam Haas and David Musante. I’ve worked with each of them pretty consistently throughout my time at the Conservatory, and both have been so inspiring and really helped me come into my own, in their own ways.

Taking Piano Lessons with Dr. Haas has been so beneficial, from helping me create a practice schedule to refining the small details in pieces, I have truly learned so much from him and can really see a marked improvement in my playing. I greatly appreciate his knowledge, patience and support.

I take Bass and Jazz Ensemble with David, but he also organizes gigs. In working with him I’ve gained a great understanding in gig set up and tear down, jazz, performance etiquette, playing in an ensemble, and something that was really difficult for me; walking bass lines!

I really owe them both a huge ‘thank you’ for their time, effort, and experience.

Which 6-7 songs would be on your ultimate road trip playlist?

I scrolled through over 700 songs for this, here we go:

1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
2. Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender
3. Cigarette Daydreams by Cage The Elephant
4. Glory by Bastille
5. It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You) by The 1975
6. Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police
7. Soundcheck by Catfish and the Bottlemen

Caleb Powell

Caleb Powell

How long have you attended Colorado Springs Conservatory?

I began attending CSC in the Fall of 2021.

What are you studying at CSC?

I am taking classical and jazz piano, bass, and voice, and last semester I also took guitar. I am also taking music theory and ear training, piano pedagogy, music production, and music history.

Why did you choose to attend CSC for a Gap Year, and what are your plans after you complete the Gap Year program?

I chose to attend Colorado Springs Conservatory for a gap year to get experience in the local music community and so that I could meet people who are actively involved in the music scene, locally. I am not completely sure what I will do after I complete the program, but I would like to begin performing locally and writing more original music. Eventually, I may end up going to study music at a college.

How has the Gap Year program prepared you for your future?

The gap year program has given me a realistic look into what a future in music might look like, even with different focuses. It has helped me meet people who may give me more connections with other local musicians and venues, and has given me a better understanding of what I can do with the skills I am learning.

What are your dreams for the future?

I don’t yet know in what specific ways I will pursue making this dream a reality, but I hope that one day I can use music to help people understand and appreciate life better. I want to help bring different people together and inspire them to live and create and explore to discover a richer and more meaningful life.

What advice would you give to a peer considering attending the Gap Year program Colorado Springs Conservatory?

I would advise them to do it. You may not get a college degree from the Conservatory, but meeting like-minded people who are interested in many of the same things you are, walking alongside them for this portion of your life journey, and pursuing many of the same goals together is a wonderful thing. It’s almost better that there isn’t the pressure of passing and failing, but instead, the freedom to explore, and mess up. Music shouldn’t be a burden or competitive; it should be an exciting journey of new and fun things. …Not always easy, but the most rewarding things are often very difficult. Pursue your goals with encouraging mentors, and positive friends. I can’t think of a better place to do it.

Who has been your favorite mentor and/or inspiration in your music and performance journey?

My parents have always been a big inspiration to me, even though neither of them are very musically inclined. They both have shown the courage to pursue goals that don’t always seem normal or that don’t always make sense. They go for the things they love and are passionate about, regardless of how prepared they are or how much sense it makes, and I love them for it.

I’ve also really enjoyed all of my mentors at the Conservatory, so far. I am especially impressed with Andrew Friedrichs who teaches my theory and ear training, and Thomas Wilson who teaches music history. They have what could be the most difficult and boring classes to teach, but they both bring so much enthusiasm and passion to these subjects that I have a great time learning even the boring stuff from them, that’s a really impressive feat to me.

What would be on your ultimate road trip playlist?

It would be really difficult to pick this. I would have to separate it into different genres. On one hand, I love and listen to a lot of classical music, mostly from the romantic era. I would definitely have lots of waltzes from Chopin and Tchaikovsky, and some works of Saint Saens as well.

On a non classical playlist, it would be difficult to choose specific songs, but there would be lots of songs from, Lake Street Dive, Colter Wall, Lord Huron, Jack Johnson, Run River North, and tons of others.


Maya West

How long have you attended Colorado Springs Conservatory?

I have been at CSC for a year and a half and I study voice, music production, and bass guitar.

How has the Gap Year program prepared you for your future?

Because of how late I came to the Conservatory (the summer before my senior year), I did not get a complete chance to expand on all of the things I wanted to learn when it came to music. The Gap Year program was the perfect option for me and allowed me to continue working with these amazing mentors and/or musicians and study music on a level that would prepare me to further pursue it.

What are some of your fondest memories of your time at CSC?

Gigs, overall, have to be some of my fondest memories. Even though it is slightly stressful, at first, to perform in front of so many people, it quickly becomes a fun experience and something to look forward to. Even when you mess up performing at gigs, when you’re with the right group, you all can just laugh it off and move on. Through rehearsals and playing shows with others, I have made some great friends and great memories.

What are your dreams for the future?

My dream for the future is to be a musician on an influential level. I have always admired the way music can change your mindset and your perception of the world, and I have always wanted to make music that gives a positive outlook to others. I also dream to be an influential musician due to, very specifically, autism representation. Not many know this, but I am actually on the autism spectrum myself. Since I found this out around two years ago, it only motivated me more to create and to share my music with others to help contribute to the much needed representation of autistic people in creative fields like myself.

What advice would you give to a peer considering attending Colorado Springs Conservatory?

The advice I’d give to anyone wanting to attend Colorado Springs Conservatory is don’t be afraid to ask for help. All of my mentors met me where I was at in my music knowledge and level of playing with all my instruments. They are more than happy to help, and they are there to help you work on music in the ways you want to work on music.

Who has been your favorite mentor and/or inspiration in your music and performance journey?

My biggest inspiration in my music and performance journey has to be my late sister, Ciara. She worked in public relations for musicians, along with being a singer herself. She had always known that music was my main passion in life and always encouraged me to pursue it. Beyond her pure support, the way that she touched so many people’s hearts and sought to love and understand others became one of my main motivators and aspirations.

Which songs would be on your ultimate road trip playlist?

My top 7 road trip songs would be:
Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) by Train
Happy Together by The Turtles
Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds
Let’s Dance To Joy Division by The Wombats
Doin’ Time by Sublime
Shotgun by George Ezra
Tiny Dancer by Elton John