Middle school is a uniquely difficult time for everyone, as children are transitioning into their teen years and discovering who they are. Karla is a student at Phillips Middle School in Chapel Hill who studies the violin with Musical Empowerment and can attest to this. For Karla, a big part of finding her place has been through music — specifically orchestra.
While participating in orchestra can be challenging for young musicians, Karla has excelled. Karla and her mother, Eloisa, attribute Karla’s success and musical abilities to the four years Karla has been taking violin lessons with Musical Empowerment. Three of those years have been spent with Daniela Decristo, a recent graduate of UNC who has volunteered with Musical Empowerment since her first year at UNC.
Daniela has been playing violin since first grade. She majored in biology and minored in music at UNC. She graduated early but has decided to continue volunteering with Musical Empowerment until May. She currently works full-time in a lab in Chapel Hill and plans to continue with her career in biology. Daniela is grateful for the time she has spent with Musical Empowerment and is amazed by how much she has seen Karla grow over the past three years.
Karla commented on how the dynamics are different in orchestra compared to the one-on-one interaction she receives with Daniela at Musical Empowerment. However, in orchestra, Karla is able to teach other students to keep up with the material, just like Daniela has taught her. Through their weekly lessons, Karla believes that the most important lesson Daniela has taught her is confidence. This confidence allows Karla to approach the challenges in both music and orchestra with excitement. While learning new topics and songs can be difficult, Daniela commends Karla. “She just keeps going. With every new thing she learns, she gains a little confidence.”
Eloisa agrees that Karla has grown in both maturity and in music over the past few years. Eloisa said that everything Karla does makes her proud. “When her school orchestra teacher tells me how great she is doing in class and how well behaved she is, that makes me happy. That’s all I can ask for,” she said. Eloisa recalls seeing the first time Karla performed on stage at the Musical Empowerment recital. “It was amazing and beautiful. It’s a moment I think about all of the time.”
Karla’s father’s love for music and their family’s Hispanic culture motivated Eloisa to get her daughter involved with Musical Empowerment. “Many Hispanic people are not [involved in music]. They often do not have the time because they work [different] jobs. I wanted Karla to do something different,” she said. She looks forward to watching her daughter’s budding violin career, and is excited to see her progress on to high school and college orchestra.
Although Daniela and Karla will both be moving forward to pursue their goals, the bond that they have built and lessons that they have learned through their time together at Musical Empowerment will be everlasting. They agree that they are “like sisters” and have both inspired each other. “I’ve seen Karla grow-up in so many ways. I’m going to miss her perseverance,” Daniela said.
This semester, Karla and Daniela are working on “My Heart Will Go On,” from the movie Titanic. Karla has learned the basics of the piece and is now working on fine-tuning. Through weekly lessons, conversations, and bonding through the common interest of music, the progress has been remarkable. Even though Daniela plans on pursuing her career in biology, she plans to keep in touch with Karla and her family. Daniela jokes to Karla, “You may be stuck with me forever!”