Alumni Speak on Their DQ Experience
NAME: OLIVIA KATZ
INSTRUMENT AT DQ: Violin
COLLEGE: University of Pennsylvania
COLLEGE MAJOR: Molecular Biology
My music training taught me the importance of practice, not just in violin, but in every discipline. I have learned to appreciate classical music, which I think many people my age do not fully appreciate. I sometimes listen to it while doing other things and find it relaxing and comforting. I have learned the ability to empathize with others. As a doctor, especially in pediatrics, I will face all sorts of emotional situations. My ability to understand these emotions, which I have gained from playing music, will greatly improve my bedside manner and help me to relate to my patients and their families. My evolution as a performer stands out to me. I remember when I was four years old— standing at my first of many recitals. But when my name was called, I froze. I was too scared to go up to the front of the room to perform my piece. The recital ended and I had still not played. Clutching onto my sweater like a safety blanket, a few minutes later, I then declared that I was ready to play—and Mr. Hough patiently found a way to make that happen. 14 years later, I have had the training and the experience to stand confidently on grand stages.
NAME: JACOB ALMANZAR
INSTRUMENT AT DQ: Classical Guitar
COLLEGE: The College of Saint Rose
COLLEGE MAJOR: Music Industry
It is because of Diller-Quaile—and the relationships I made there—that I decided I wanted to major in something music related. I did not become serious about music until Diller-Quaile showed me its value. I received the first tastes of some of the college courses that I have been enrolled in, at Diller-Quaile. The School gave me a sort of pride in what I was doing, which made me confident to pursue what I wanted. What stands out for me is the overwhelming support of everyone in the building. The incredible ability of my teachers to make everything interesting and applicable. DQ has been inspirational for me on my musical journey. My brother is starting at Diller-Quaile in the fall. I know that he will be in great hands, and I am excited for his love and passion for music to grow there.
NAME: ALEX WIESENDANGER
INSTRUMENT AT DQ: Cello
COLLEGE: State University of New York at Binghamton (B.A.), Loyola University (M.A.)
COLLEGE MAJOR: B.A. in Music and Political Science, M.A. in Social Justice
The same way I learned to break down a difficult piece into small passages, turn on the metronome, and play it over and over until I could master it, are the skills I need to take on large social problems and build new skills across a wide spectrum of work. Giving me the joy of being able to play music also gave me a place that I know I can always go for some peace and joy during stressful or frustrating times. Even now, I pick up my cello and play when I need an hour of quiet and peace. Playing chamber music helped me learn how to listen, how to work in groups, and how to move a team together toward a shared goal. It is amazing how much that translates into local community meetings or campaign strategy sessions to deal with neighborhood violence, pass new legislation, or create a new service project in my role as a community organizer. The first thing that stands out to me was how much the entire school cared for me. Diller-Quaile felt like both a school and a family, and I will be eternally grateful to Diller-Quaile and the entire staff for what they did for me.
NAME: RICHARD NEDERLANDER
INSTRUMENTS AT DQ: Piano and Percussion
COLLEGE: Columbia College in the City of New York
COLLEGE MAJOR: Astrophysics
At Diller-Quaile I was taught to understand and become interested in a wide range of classical music. I can now name the music I enjoy listening to from every musical era, starting with Baroque and ending with Early Modern. My piano music training brought me to love performing so much that wherever I go, if I see a piano I am tempted to begin playing. Firstly, my studies at Diller-Quaile have influenced me to minor in music. I learned from Dr. Claudia Knafo and Mr. James Melo that while it is important to learn to perform, it is just as important to understand the music. As a student at Diller-Quaile since the age of 2, I have had many wonderful teachers in all my classes; I appreciate their guidance and want to thank them all. Mrs. Marjory Duncalfe instilled a love of piano and the importance of selecting repertoire that one enjoys. My lessons with Dr. Knafo will be my defining memories at Diller- Quaile. Not only did she commit me to practicing piano for long lengths of time at home, she also encouraged me to practice after long days at school and my other extracurricular activities. The more I played, the more I loved the music.
NAME: ALEXIS KABACK
INSTRUMENT AT DQ: Voice
COLLEGE: Mount Holyoke College
COLLEGE MAJOR: Film Studies
I think the thrill of performing in front of an audience has helped develop my confidence. In college, there is a fair amount of public speaking done, as well as paper writing. Paper writing is similar to a musical performance—you are putting a craft (writing) on display.Though I regret not singing more in college, I feel that my music training gave me the step-ping stone to realize what I want to do in the future. I am currently interning with a music supervisor, assisting on licensing recorded music for film mediums—this way I am able to combine my love of music and film. I do not think I fully appreciated the required music theory component of the High School Certificate Program at Diller-Quaile. Looking back, this mandatory portion gave me the additional skill of sight-reading, which I use frequently in my college voice lessons.
NAME: SAMANTHA CLAIRE SPIRIDELLIS
INSTRUMENTS AT DQ: Piano and Violin
COLLEGE: Ohio Wesleyan University
COLLEGE MAJOR: Classical Piano
Diller-Quaile exposed me to the world of music education, and how extensive and dedicated some individuals are to creating and sustaining a sound environment—where people can study music from people who love creating music. Soon after graduating High School, I received an assistant position working at the Diller-Quaile Summer Music Study Outreach Pro-gram. This led me to the job position I had this past year as a music teacher at Horizon International Bilingual School in Vietnam. I was always aware that outlets exist, and that humans need to express themselves. I know life should feel good, and I learned that early being exposed to and playing music. What I remember most are Monday evenings at Diller-Quaile—I had group violin class, orchestra, and an individual lesson. It was truly the best way to start a week. There were also young teens as well, so I was quite comfortable socially being able to form friendships with people of different cultural backgrounds and experiences. Diller-Quaile was a very comfortable and safe place where I knew I was welcome and could call “home.”
NAME: NICKY SWETT
INSTRUMENT AT DQ: Cello
COLLEGE: Northwestern University
COLLEGE MAJOR: Cello Performance and Comparative Literature
Beyond giving me my foundation as a cellist, the warm and positive environment of Diller-Quaile gave me confidence as a performer, not only of music. I believe that my comfort with public speaking, and my ability to act in high school stage plays, were sparked by the supportive performance program of Diller-Quaile. My teacher, Jennifer Jahn, was responsible for the strong passion I have now, not only for playing cello, but for music itself. My music training is at the heart of the work ethic I have developed throughout high school and college. The ability to study and prepare something, not only for the eyes of a teacher or parent but in order to entertain and move a public audience, is something that has been crucial to my successful academic performance. Diller-Quaile provided me with an extraordinary variety of performance experiences. I remember with such pride the fact that I got to play Vivaldi’s Double Concerto at Merkin Hall. The experience of returning to play a concert at DQ this spring reminds me that I will always be a Diller-Quaile student, no matter where I am in my career or my life!
NAME: NIKKI LOHR
INSTRUMENT AT DQ: Flute
COLLEGE: Vassar College
COLLEGE MAJOR: History
Studying music made me a happier person. From a skills standpoint, it’s true what everyone says about the practicing habits music instills. You can apply the endurance and patience you learn through playing a Bach Sonata over and over to any type of work you do. Years of getting up and performing in front of audiences (even if they were just the friendly ones you find at DQ) made me a more confident person. I don’t think I would have been nearly as happy my freshman year without that confidence I built through music. DQ was for me what yoga is for many. It was a time of meditation. I walked through that red door and left test scores behind. You get a kind of one-on-one attention from your teachers that I think would be hard to find anywhere else. There are few people I would rather spend a few hours a week with than my teachers at DQ. An aspect that really stands out about DQ is the professional piano accompanists you have the opportunity to play with regularly in lessons. They teach you not through words but by playing with you as they would play with any professional musician. They treat you as an equal.
NAME: ANELISE NOEMI FEINSTEIN
INSTRUMENT AT DQ: Violin
COLLEGE: Marymount Manhattan College
COLLEGE MAJOR: Fine Studio Art
During my musical studies, both in theory and violin, my love for my instrument multiplied as I progressed in learning and improving my ways of playing. It was from this which inspired not only my career-goal of performing in Carnegie Hall (which Diller-Quaile allowed to happen in 2005), but greatly influenced my new career goal of becoming a combined music and (studio) art therapist. Music training helped prepare me for college because it gave me prior experience in a form of studying, through tirelessly practicing in preparation for concerts. I consider this synonymous to studying for exams—the more you study, the better mark you will receive, just as the more you practice, the better your performance will be. I especially appreciated how much of a sense of family I felt developed there. In particular, I was touched by how, after experiencing a serious injury in summer 2003, not only was my musical learning especially encouraged and reinforced by my teacher, Carla Francis, but Kirsten Morgan, the director, made sure that my graduation had its own, special ceremony and celebration in honor of my accomplishment—which made me feel very special!
NAME: DEREK BRAVERMAN
INSTRUMENTS AT DQ: Violin and Viola
COLLEGE: Yale University
COLLEGE MAJOR: Philosophy and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
I credit my experience at Diller-Quaile almost entirely for providing me with what will surely be a life-long love of music. Through my courses in composition, theory, and performance—both as a soloist and in ensembles—I have learned how to listen to others carefully, to persevere, and to have great attention to detail. At Yale, I have continued making music as a violinist in Yale’s pop orchestra, the Davenport Pops, and as a volunteer with Music Haven, a program that provides free instrumental lessons to public middle school students. I continue to enjoy making music with my peers, sharing music with others, and witnessing its power to create community and shape character. Rather than any distinct memories, what stands out most about my 15 years at Diller-Quaile is the welcoming and supportive community. I remain in touch with many of the friends I met at Diller-Quaile, and greatly appreciate the extraordinary time, effort, and skill that my wonderful teachers invested in my education.