Meet New Music Students

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Meet New Music Students

Jerry Sheng

Jerry Sheng

Jerry Sheng

Oliver Chen ’22
Could you describe your musical career before Hotchkiss?
I started playing the piano when I was nearly five years old, and I have won many international and national piano competitions. But I didn’t practice for three years (from 12-15; now I’m 16). I just started playing again last year.

What about the music program drew you to Hotchkiss?
Hotchkiss has one of the best music [and] piano programs in the U.S. There are amazing facilities and teachers here. Mr. [Fabio] Witkowski is the one who encouraged me to start playing piano again.

What are your impressions of the music program so far?
I have been taking lessons with Mr. Witkowski for almost two years, so I know the program well. When I first met Mr. Witkowski, he let me play the Fazioli [piano], which was fantastic.

What events/opportunities are you looking forward to this year?
[I am looking forward to] piano competitions. I am also into singing, so I might take singing lessons from Mr. [Jack] Brown.

Clara Ma ’23
Could you describe your musical career before Hotchkiss?
Art was always a big part of my life. I grew up watching my sister leap and dance across the stage, and I started playing violin before I could even color inside the lines. Upon my parents’ suggestion, I started to play the flute at eight years old. I was skeptical at first. However, immediately after leaving my first flute lesson, I joyfully screamed, “I love flute!”
From then on, I practiced constantly, and at ten years-old, I won my first award. Recently, I have been attending master classes, and I even had the opportunity to take one [with] James Galway! Aside from solo work, I also greatly enjoyed playing with groups of musicians, specifically the New Jersey Youth Symphony.
In seventh grade, I auditioned for North Jersey’s Region Band, and I earned first chair in the intermediate band. This year, I earned first chair in the advanced orchestra, with the highest score in all of [my] region.

What about the music program drew you to Hotchkiss?
The Hotchkiss music program was a big part of why I chose Hotchkiss. I loved that music was a part of our core classes, as opposed to [at] most schools, where art is optional. Because of this, I would be more motivated to improve. Furthermore, Hotchkiss is known for [its] talented, passionate, and dedicated musicians, with whom I will also be able to grow.

What are your impressions of the music program so far?
My first impressions of the music program are very good! I have had to adjust a bit, from doubling the number of lessons [I take] per week and now taking a class just for music theory, but I love it.

What events/opportunities are you looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to contribut[ing] to a group of talented Hotchkiss musicians during orchestra. [Specifically,] I am looking forward to the performances [with] the orchestra.