2023 Performing Arts Award Recipients

Performing Arts Award

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the 2023 recipients of the Chris Patterson Performing Arts Award.

West Aurora High School

From West Aurora High School, the recipient was Rebecca Evans!

The Winning Submission

The Performing Arts have always played an important role in my life. I have been heavily involved in choir and drama at Goodwin Elementary School, Jewel Middle School, and West Aurora High School and can confidently say that the lessons learned while participating in the performing arts have significantly and positively influenced my success in all areas, not only of my education but in my personal development. As a Senior this year at West Aurora High School, I can now look back at how the performing arts have helped shape the student and person that I have become.

In terms of my participation in the Performing Arts, I was a member of the Goodwin and Jewel choirs and drama productions every year that I was eligible. I am a four-year choir student at West, have performed in 8 theater productions, directed a show for our Winter One Acts, and will bring my time there to a close by performing the role of Bea in Something Rotten! I am also the current Drama Club president and have been a student assistant for Mr. Brian Smith in the choir department and Mr. Kenneth Ruffalo in the drama department. Outside of school, I take voice lessons and was honored to sing the National Anthem for the Christopher Patterson Annual Motorcycle Ride in 2022 and was able to hitch a ride and participate in the amazing 50-mile journey.

From the very start, performing has taught me the values of courage, confidence, and responsibility. It takes courage to audition for a role in a play or a solo in a choir. I learned that I needed to jump in and try my very best. It takes confidence to perform on stage in a show or lead your section in a song. The Performing Arts taught me to value myself and appreciate what I could bring to the group. To succeed in all of this requires practice and attention and through my participation in the Performing Arts, I learned that it is my responsibility to put in the time and effort to get the work done.

The values of courage, confidence, and responsibility that I learned through participation in the Performing Arts have helped me in all other areas of my education. Whenever I struggled in class with a certain topic or felt the stress of a project, I knew I would need to just jump in and get started, know that I can handle it, and put in the work to accomplish the task. No matter if it is a math or science class, English or history, I have been able to use lessons learned in choir and the theater to succeed. I plan to go to Illinois State University this fall and major in Elementary Education. My goal is to apply these lessons I have learned, as a teacher and I hope to teach students to appreciate the Arts and to be courageous, confident, and responsible — just like me.

Batavia High School

From Batavia High School, the recipient was Morgan Hutchens!

The Winning Submission

Music has assisted my learning in nearly every core subject. I took dance lessons and piano in grade school. In fifth grade, I learned to play the flute. Those experiences led me to be interested in learning other instruments like the piccolo, tin whistle, accordion, bari saxophone, ukulele, and guitar. From improving my math skills by learning complex counting and rhythms to knowing the history behind the music and being able to tie it to historical events. Music has never left my side from the moment I was introduced to it. Although, some moments stand out more than others. Being involved in music and having a love for it meant I became very interested in musicals and movies at a very young age. Additionally, many of these musicals are staged during an important time in history.

The play “Hamilton” was staged all throughout the American Revolution and told the stories of important men and women throughout history. This musical became popular just at the time of learning about the American Revolution and taking the Constitution test in seventh grade. My parents would not allow me to see the play due to some bad language. They bought me the soundtrack, with the swear words taken out, for my birthday. I then remember using the songs by singing them in my head to recall facts in two additional history and government classes. Surprisingly enough, in my junior year English class, we had an actual unit on the “Hamilton” musical and analyzing lyrics. I played the soundtrack on my CD player many times throughout the years and had every bit memorized, which made the unit a breeze to accomplish.

Another musical that comes to mind would be the musical and movie “Hairspray”. As a little kid, I watched this movie over and over for years. Although it does get cheesy at times, the movie taught me at a very young age about segregation and civil rights. Whenever the topic came up in history classes, I would always think back to different moments in the movie and be able to tie it back to what we were learning.

My love for music, movies, and playing many different instruments has brought me here to you, to apply for this generous scholarship and to pursue a career in Music Education. Thank you for considering my essay.

East Aurora High School

From East Aurora High School, the recipient was Kennia Pineda!

The Winning Submission

With Performing Arts taking such a huge place in my life, since late elementary school, I’ve learned so much from the arts that have become applicable to other parts of my education. I’ve been in band since 5th grade, where I had dreams to get as far as I could with the band and to be the best I could be. However, somewhere in between I began to lose that love and passion for the band and the Performing Arts in general. I wasn’t sure about what the band program could provide for me, and I had begun to lose hope in gaining anything from the band program. However, the people I met in the band program made it something I wanted to keep pursuing and something I wanted to hold onto. The Performing Arts taught me leadership skills, passion, and dedication which then turned into the mantra I began to follow for everything school related.

I became section leader for the 2022 to 2023 school year and that made me realize I had leadership skills I never knew I had in me. The people I had seen as just peers had now become the kids I had to look after, the kids that gave me back the passion I once had for band, these kids were now looking up to me and I knew I had to give it my all to not just band but to school to show these kids that there was so much more the band program had to offer besides music. With the leadership skills I had unlocked I was able to lead different groups in school be it projects or presentations. I was able to become a person who was reliable and able to lead people and it helped improve my social skills and voice my opinions to my classmates.

The newfound dedication made me realize that I wasn’t a single person most of the time and that I was an extension of a group. I learned to dedicate my time to becoming a team player. It wasn’t an easy task, however band helped with the task, I had a section that I had to lead and I was no longer just me I was now part of something bigger a group that I consider a family. This was one of the biggest advantages the band gave me as I learned to be a team player and not just a person who wants to spend all my time avoiding group work. Instead, I embrace it now and I’m more open to being a small part of the bigger image.

I also discovered what passion was. Before I never truly felt like I had anywhere I truly belonged and I never gave my all to anything, I had no drive, no motivation, and no perseverance. Band gave all those feelings back. Before I had fallen into a typical burnout student role where nothing felt right, but after taking a bigger role in band I realized that the passion I had locked away was more useful now than ever, as a senior I needed that passion, and without band, I would have never had that passion resurface and I would have continued to average Cs and not the student I am now.

So, although I never felt like the Performing Arts was a major part of my school life, I realized that band was the foundation of who I was, and the student I present myself as, and it’s something that I am so glad I didn’t leave it behind because I’m the student I am because of it.

Kaneland High School

From Kaneland High School, the recipient was Mya McIntire!

The Winning Submission

Something I take great pride in is my love of patterns. Call it childish or strange if you wish, but I love them. Patterns give everything a reason; they keep everything in order and open the door to many possibilities. Some of my favorite patterns are in music; there are endless possibilities of melodies and rhythms, yet somehow, amidst all the chaos, I hear patterns. It happens in pop music, the same chord progressions are used in so many songs, so once you learn one on whatever instrument, it is easy to figure out many more songs.

My love for musical patterns carries over to my schoolwork, as well. I can recognize patterns faster than some of my classmates, which makes learning material easier. In math, I can memorize equations based on how they relate to each other, much like how voice parts build off each other to create beautiful choral music. In English class, I can identify how an author wants the work to be read and compare it to how I interpret it, much like actors must do when they are reading their lines and building character.

Something I had to learn the hard way from participating in the Performing Arts is how to manage my time better. Believe it or not, pushing schoolwork off until I have a break was not a good way to manage my time. Between daily rehearsals and occasional performances, spare time does not come easily. I do my schoolwork when I am offstage at rehearsals and start it right away when I get home. Procrastination is not an option in the world of the Performing Arts, and failing to do schoolwork is not beneficial to anyone. I develop a pattern in my day-to-day life for dealing with and completing homework and find ways to shape the work into activities that are a little more enjoyable than schoolwork usually is.

My participation in the Arts has taught me many lessons that I apply to my academic life to make that part a little less intimidating. My pattern recognition and time management that I acquired from the Performing Arts enable me to remain a good performer, as well as a reliable student.

Geneva Community High School

From Geneva Community High School, the recipient was Kyra Kopec!

The Winning Submission

Participating in Performing Arts is something I fell into and has only made me a stronger and more confident person in the classroom. As a student with a reading disability, I never had the opportunity to take exploratory classes like band and choir. I enjoy a variety of music genres and singing for fun with my choir and band friends. I attend local theater productions at the Paramount or a girl’s trip into the city to see a musical or play annually.

So, when people suggested I join I wasn’t sure at first if I could handle being a part of the after-school program with the amount of time my classes took for me to complete outside of the school day. I was so wrong! Instead, I learned Theater allowed me to express the artistic side of myself while also practicing my reading, and communication and improving my time management skills. Years later now instead of being afraid of being called on to read things aloud in class, I seize my moment. I use the skills learned from theatre to perform in class which has helped me be an active participant and lifelong learner in my education.

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Performing Arts Award

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the 2022 recipients of the Chris Patterson Performing Arts Award.

West Aurora High School

From West Aurora High School, the recipient was David Simpson!

The Winning Submission

After months of preparation, performing on stage gives a rush of adrenaline and a sense of accomplishment. However, acting and singing in choirs at West Aurora High School also gives me skills that I use daily, even in classes that aren’t fine arts-based. One crucial factor for performing, whether that’s in a play or musical, or concert, is working with those around you. This is a major part of performing, trusting in, and becoming confident with those around you. This is something I use in all my classes, especially when working on a group project. The companionship and trust I learned from being on stage also translate to the classroom.

Additionally, another way that performing arts has helped me is feeling comfortable asking questions. As simple as it sounds, asking questions can sometimes be difficult, especially in a core curriculum class. However, in my fine arts courses, I find myself asking questions all the time checking on a note or my blocking, or just seeking clarification. Without realizing it, throughout my four years in high school I have become less afraid or worried to ask questions in core classes. The confidence that performing instills in me is a huge asset to me in the classroom.

This confidence shows up in other ways as well. I also have become less nervous when presenting or giving speeches in front of the class, because of my experience in the performing arts. Having that prior experience helps to calm your nerves and have fun when presenting a speech or project. Without even realizing it, the performing arts have given me so many additional valuable talents and confidence that apply to all parts of my life. This helps me under the lights on the stage or in the classroom when prepping for a project or test.

As I look ahead to college where I plan to continue my studies with a major in Musical Theatre at Illinois State University, I will carry these ideas and experiences with me. The performing arts are a part of my life, on and off the stage, whether I had realized it or not, and I am better because of it.

Batavia High School

From Batavia High School, the recipient was Julianna Anderson!

The Winning Submission

I have been in Orchestra since I was in fifth grade. It has been around eight years that I have been participating in music, and for some years I participated in dance competitions. Therefore, I have spent over ten years in the performing arts, and I have always considered it a part of my life that I will never get rid of. Without the performing arts, I do not think that I would have the success I do today in my academic life.

In elementary school, I struggled with most subjects and even took additional speech classes that my other classmates weren’t taking. For some time, I was even on an IEP due to my difficulty in learning and catching up with my age group. Once I started playing cello in fourth and fifth grade, I started to have more success in my classes. Starting in seventh grade, I started to maintain a 4.0 GPA and maintain straight A’s throughout the rest of my years at middle school. Then, once I got to high school, I started to take more rigorous classes such as AP subjects, Dual Credit classes, and Honors classes.  Music is most definitely the biggest factor in my academic success. Without it, I do not believe that I would be able to maintain the time management and complex thinking skills that I have today.

I believe that music has made me into an amazing student that is able to pick up concepts better than I ever could before. Because of music, I have a hobby that I can look forward to, relax, and de-stress from studying in my core subjects. It has also allowed me to continue my French education so that, eventually, I will be bilingual. I am excited to be able to further my education in college, and I know that it will be thanks to the fact that I am a performing artist.

East Aurora High School

From East Aurora High School, the recipient was Daniela Velazquez!

The Winning Submission

Ever since the 5th grade, I have always been actively involved in both band and choir. Once I got to high school I joined as many ensembles as I could. I joined and auditioned into my school’s top band and choir; I played in both Jazz Bands; I was in the marching band as a member and a section leader; I was part of the pit for our musical; I auditioned for ILMEA and got to perform with the honors Choir twice. I did all this while taking all honors and AP classes. Doing so much has led to classmates calling me a “try-hard” and “extra” but while they laughed at me for being an overachiever, I learned important skills such as time management and refinement which have transformed me into a student who always gives it their all inside and outside of school.

The countless hours I spent practicing inside of the practice rooms, whether it be playing runs on the flute or singing difficult harmonies, taught me how to effectively look at music in different ways to help me achieve the product I desired. I have seen this translate into my classwork as I look at different ways to approach writing assignments and as I choose what words to use in a well-thought-out essay. Like the music I play, I took a step back and looked at it as a whole. I tried to convey emotion and story through my words in the same way I did my music. I found myself mirroring my legato and expressive playing in my long and poetic writing. My staccato rhythms and accented notes transformed into the scribbling of my pencil as I wrote sentences and clicked my pen. The creativity I learned from my playing directly translated into my poems for class.

Aside from that, the sight-reading I did in band and choir taught me how to be quick on my feet which has proven to be useful in most if not all of my classes. It’s helped me prepare for timed tests in math, literature, and history. It’s taught me to accept my mistakes in pretests and learn to appreciate the growth I show in final tests just like seeing the improvement from my first sight read all the way to my concert performance.

I’ve loved and enjoyed every performance I got to be a part of and cannot imagine who I would be without music. I mean it when I say that performing has taught me discipline and application. It’s also most importantly taught me how to enjoy school and all the opportunities given to me. I only hope that I can continue to fill my life with my love for music and education as I continue to grow as a musician and into adulthood.

Kaneland High School

From Kaneland High School, the recipient was McKenna Goss!

The Winning Submission

I’ve loved performing arts since elementary school. I always felt like I truly came alive the second I stepped on that stage. Being in the performing arts has taught me that fortune favors the brave. David Walsch once said, ” Life starts at the end of your comfort zone”. Performing arts has pulled many valuable traits out of me that have helped me in high school, and that I know will help me as I move forward in life beyond high school.

Being a performer means ignoring your fears, getting up time and time again to perform even if you’re shaking. Pushing myself past my fears repeatedly has made me confident in my education because everything pales in comparison. When it comes time in my AP Spanish class to present and I get the normal jitters, I feel comfort knowing all the times that I’ve gotten through the fear just fine.

A couple of years ago I was talking to an upperclassman in theater, and he said something that stuck with me. Sitting on the floor in the music hallway, he talked about how he kept auditioning and performing because he learned to love the fear and the rush that comes after. He said that eventually, that fear left him and now it’s second nature. Ever since, I have continued to ruthlessly throw myself at opportunities to reach this level of homeostasis, if you will. The performing arts have given me the priceless trait of being confident in myself in the face of adversity.

Performing arts has also taught me to be insanely open-minded and accepting of fellow students in school. Putting myself in the shoes of various characters has allowed me to empathize more with the people in my life similar to those characters. Diving into the psychology of different characters has also taught me more about myself.   In English class, I analyze characters from our books the same way I would analyze a role. Character analysis definitely is a skill that I use both in theater, the classroom, and in life. In the future, I will use the things I’ve learned to approach the world with empathy.

The valuable lessons I’ve learned from theater have enriched my high school education and I am confident they will enrich the rest of my life. We never know how long we will have on this earth, so with the time we have, I am so grateful that I have had such a loving, impactful environment that has helped me grow in many areas of my life. I look forward to the future where I can continue to perform and inspire others to become their best selves as well.

Geneva Community High School

From Geneva Community High School, the recipient was Hannah Thill!

The Winning Submission

In the midst of a chaotic school day, I place my viola on my shoulder and draw my bow across its strings. For 50 minutes, I am transported out of the school, completely enthralled in the world of orchestra. I have always been an honors student, with a schedule packed with courses designed to challenge every area of my mind, but orchestra is a release. Challenging as it may be, music provides a release, a chance for me to express whatever emotions I may be feeling into art. Recharging for the school day, music leaves me more focused and ready to tackle the concepts of my core classes.

As I play a Bach fugue, I notice the patterns in the music, and how the melodies and counterpoints interact between sections and seamlessly transform over time. Seamlessly threaded together, a pattern can be found in this art. Finding patterns in life is necessary; from geometric sequences to sentence structures, patterns dictate how we live. Identifying these patterns in music has translated into my academic courses, translating the creativity I thrive in into logic.

But music isn’t solely about patterns, as prominent as they may be. Music expounds upon human emotions. Every feeling is perfectly planned out, the sheet music in front of me is a roadmap of emotions. How is this any different than in an English class? The author uses their sentence structure and words to generate emotions just like composers with their music.

All of this, identifying patterns, and seeing how emotions are seamlessly woven into every aspect of life, translate into my core classes. I find myself excelling through these lessons music teaches me, and I use the escape my orchestra class provides me to prepare for the courses ahead of me. The bell rings, and orchestra class is over, but the lessons learned in orchestra will remain with me throughout the day, throughout my life.

Performing Arts Award

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the 2021 recipients of the Chris Patterson Performing Arts Award.

West Aurora High School

From West Aurora High School, the recipient was Allison Tremaine!

The Winning Submission

Stillness. In spite of all of the performances, bonding sessions, and rehearsals; the stillness of walking back to your car resting under the streetlamp of an empty parking lot gave me one of the most surreal feelings I have ever experienced. One that can only be achieved by waking up at 5 am, going to school, stressing about when you’re going to find the time to do your AP homework, and staying until 11 pm after a disastrous first day of tech week. While being involved in stage crew, wind symphony, marching band, and pep band; I’ve grown accustomed to a rigorous schedule. The time management skills I’ve gained over the years have helped not only maintain my grades as I do the things, I love but have also kept me from losing my sanity. Especially on the Fridays when I had crew after school, a football game after that, and a paper on The Crucible due the same night.

With covid, the days melted together. Without being able to rehearse like we normally do, my appreciation for the fine arts surfaced as I came to realize that it is the reason many students find the motivation to go to school and have their work done for class. With the monotony of sitting at home typing on the computer for 8 hours a day, thank goodness marching band drilled a sense of discipline into me. Otherwise, I am fairly certain I would not have the grades I do right now. While I don’t miss practicing slides or run-on-step in 90-degree weather, the mental and physical discipline from marching band did come in handy when I was about to have a break-down over the sea of AP Physics work I had to do at the end of Junior year when the lockdown began.

The one overarching theme I’ve found that can reach every area of the fine arts is that time passes, but family stays. I had been asked before a football game by a reporter from the school newspaper, “what is one word that describes the fine arts”, and I of course said “family” She laughed and told me about how every person she interviewed had given her the same answer. Since most of the students in the AP programs are also in the fine arts, it was very easy to translate that sense of community to a classroom environment. Since we all knew each other, it made my learning experience so much easier because I didn’t have to deal with the anxiety of meeting and trying to get along with new people.

To think I wouldn’t have met so many more of these amazing people if I hadn’t been scared into joining stage crew. Yes. Scared; by my trumpet section leader my freshman year to be exact (who would later play Seymour in our production of Little Shop that spring). The connections and motivations that the fine arts give me to do well in school are what have gotten me through my last four years at West. And when I close my eyes and see my car in the distance, bathed under the warm light of that streetlamp, I will remember the friendships, heartaches, laughter, and tears that allowed me to achieve academic success thanks to the fine arts.

Batavia High School

From Batavia High School, the recipient was Alexander Holzman!

The Winning Submission

Most nights before the pandemic, after everyone else had gone home, you would have found me still at school if you peeked in practice room F. It is so rare to get a moment to play music alone, with no one else listening in—no audience and no expectations from anyone else—and I took advantage of every one of those opportunities. Being in performing arts has taught me not to take chances for granted, among other things, shaping me and who I am today.

Whether it is when I play flute in band class, or piano for myself, I know I am where I belong. There is a bond that cannot be broken. I pour not just my effort but also my emotions into music—fear, anger, sadness, and hope—and it gives me satisfaction in return.

Music has brought me out of my middle-school bubble. When I first started high school, I was nervous, awkward, and, honestly, a little antisocial. A grueling marching band repertoire of 8-hour practices, 6 days a week did most of the work for me. Standing side by side, day in, and day out, with 100 kids for a whole summer? We could not help but bond. Before my freshman year, I would never have expected to go to an escape room and a hiking trip with anyone, much less the 5 flutists that became my closest friends.

In marching band, our competition scores are not just based on the group as a whole, but also focused on individuals. Therefore, in practice, everyone constantly focuses on ways to get better—and your friends or leaders will help correct you when you mess up or when there’s a really difficult part of a show. However, they will not truly catch the smaller details unless you actively mention it. By being in marching band, I learned how to ask for help, rather than waiting for people to help me. When I am in class and do not understand something, I am now confident enough in my own ability that I can turn and admit to a friend that I do not get it and ask them to explain.

Band also underscored the value of self-reliance. Mr. Owen and BVK, my band directors, would always mention “Rule number 9” in the midst of a school concert or marching band competition. Everyone recited it as soon as it came up: “Figure it out!” No one else was going to hold me accountable—I had to hold myself accountable. One time, we were at a football game and had left the field to warm up. Horrified, I realized that I left my hat on the bench in the rush off the field, but it was too late. So, I waited until we entered again and were watching the cheer team’s performance happen ahead of us. I quickly ran and grabbed my hat. This newfound sense of independence that I had transferred over to my classes as well—I did not need someone supervising me for when I did poorly on an assignment or test because I was already looking ahead at the next steps and how to improve. I figured it out.

Like individual notes joining to create a song, music has come together in many ways throughout my life, playing a crucial part in shaping my expectations, my personality, and whom I choose to be.

East Aurora High School

From East Aurora High School, the recipient was Alan Terrazas!

The Winning Submission

Participating in the performing arts ended up being more beneficial than I anticipated when I first picked up the alto saxophone in fifth grade. Back then, I used to believe that being part of my school’s concert band would only be something to enjoy on the side while I focused on school. However, when I began to take it seriously in high school, it became a whole different story due to the fact that we now had auditions. My personal drive and my rigorous practicing in order to be, and remain, in the top bands ended up helping me improve my quick-thinking abilities, explanation skills, and motivation which proved beneficial in the core classes I took in high school.

Being able to think quickly and critically is a skill that every musician should have. The ability to recognize, prepare, and react to the rhythms as quickly and accurately as possible is critical in either a sight-read or a change in music during rehearsal. Having been doing this for several years helped me greatly in my math and science courses. In these classes there are usually, a lot of material and concepts to cover within a unit meaning they are often fast-paced and usually have a lot of content in their exams. When confronted with a problem, I would quickly recognize what it was asking, I was able to plan the equations necessary, and finally, write everything down. It was because of the quick-thinking skills that were strengthened in the concert band, tests in these courses were a lot easier to complete while still being highly accurate.

Whenever we did not pick up our instruments, we had writing assignments that focused on how a section of music felt and how their musical elements helped enforce that feeling. We developed arguments to prove our claims, similar to how most languages and history courses developed arguments. When working on these assignments, I tried to be as descriptive as possible as music can often be difficult to interpret. This benefited my language and history courses when it came to writing argumentative essays as I would try to use the evidence I found to their full use and explain them thoroughly to help prove my claim. This is shown in my AP test scores as I managed to pass both the English Language and U.S. history exams with a 5 and a 4. If it wasn’t for those assignments, my writing abilities would not be as heightened as they are today.

My motivation took a toll between my sophomore and junior year due to a surgery that I had over the summer. Once I physically healed, the marching band season was only one week away. I hadn’t mentally healed before the marching season began however, little by little I began to feel better and better. Marching with my friends and performing with them helped me get out of my stump and start remembering all of the reasons why I kept pushing forward every day. Being on that field and rehearsing drills got me active again and helped me feel better about myself. I felt so much more motivated that at the end of the year I decided to run for drum major and eventually obtain the position. I would have done my absolute best as drum major if the pandemic didn’t occur. Coming back after my surgery I wasn’t too excited at first, but once I arrived, I felt much better. Being out there helped return my drive to keep improving not only my musicality but in my education and in life as well.

As I mentioned before, being in the performing arts helped me increase my quick thinking, explanation skills, as well as my motivation which led to a benefit for all non-music-related courses. Without the aid of my concert band courses over the past four years, I would not be this well of a student nor be this well a musician. As a result, I see myself going to a four-year college next year and beginning my studies to become a pediatrician where I can put the abilities I gained into full use.

Kaneland High School

From Kaneland High School, the recipient was Maxine Ocampo!

The Winning Submission

Being involved with the performing arts all throughout high school has greatly assisted me in my core educational classes. This is because being a part of the arts program has helped me come out of my shell and express myself more. Back when I was a freshman, I was a pretty quiet kid who mostly kept to herself. However, after four years of participating in marching band, winter percussion, percussion ensemble, and seven theater productions, I can confidently say that I am not the same shy student that I used to be. By being more comfortable and open with my band and theater families, I started to gain more confidence in myself, which in turn helped me be a more active student during my day-to-day classes. I started being more involved in class discussions, became more open to collaborating with other students when it came to classwork, and took more initiative in group projects than I previously would. My leadership skills are also another reason for this, as I have greatly improved upon these skills from being given leadership roles in theater, such as student director and stage manager. By being placed in these positions, I learned how to take control over certain situations when needed and how to properly lead a group of people. I also learned what type of leader I strive to be, which is someone who takes care of those they are responsible for and makes sure that nobody feels left out in any way. After growing into a more active student who is more confident in herself and more open to communicating and connecting with others, I currently feel ready to take on the next chapter of my life beyond high school, and I have the performing arts to thank for that.

Geneva Community High School

From Geneva Community High School, the recipient was Hannah Bolender!

The Winning Submission

The impact on Music in my Education

At age six, I attended my first violin lesson, slowly learning the building blocks to becoming the musician that I am today. My teacher was strict but taught me to strive for my best. In the seventh grade, I participated in my first youth symphony. There, we dissected Dvorak’s New World Symphony by its “chapters”, articulating the colors and emotions that the music communicated. In taking music theory for the first time, math finally felt applicable. As a teacher with six violin students, I’ve learned the value of education firsthand, and how to cater a lesson to the best of a student’s needs.

These music concepts flowed directly into academic strengths, and I found myself using the same tools in high school. I studied in the same way that I learned a piece, made use of auditory and visual techniques, and never hesitated to ask for clarification. More specifically, the learning curve of violin has taught me how to tackle physics with patience and practices Symphony rehearsals taught me the value of deep analysis that I now carry through my passion for literature and writing. It has driven my interest in the government, and I hope to carry that through law school. My participation in school orchestra, music theory classes, and community arts programs has left me a toolbox of resources, ultimately making me a strong, confident, and articulate voice in my community.

2021 Awards Poster - Submissions must be postmarked by April 16, 2021

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is currently accepting submissions for the 2021 Chris Patterson Performing Arts Awards. This will be the 5th year these awards have been given out at local high schools. This year’s schools include West Aurora High School, Batavia High School, East Aurora High School, Kaneland, and Geneva High School. For more information about the awards and how to apply please visit our Performing Arts Award page at https://chrispattersonmemorial.org/performing-arts-award/ Submissions must be postmarked by April 16, 2021, to be eligible for consideration.

Performing Arts Award

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the 2020 recipients of the Chris Patterson Performing Arts Award.

West Aurora High School

From West Aurora High School, the recipient was Ainslee Wong!

The Winning Submission

Memories flood my thoughts as I wander around backstage.  I walk by the burnt spot on the ground, a reminder of the time I set fire to an extension cord by accident.  On the wall, I spot a small piece of neon spike tape, inscribed with the word “Zing,” left years ago by my old stage manager, Isobela.  Underneath the dressing room stairs, bobby pins litter the floor, an amusing reminder of the time Johnny tried to pick a lock backstage.  As I traverse the pit, I can’t help but smile at the thought of Gretchen 2, the monster that we all believe to live in the pit.  Remnants of the last set we built are scattered around, bringing about fond memories of late nights working with my most favorite people in the world. In just three short years, these strangers have turned into family, and coming to the auditorium feels like coming home. 

Without these people, I would have been crushed by the literal mountain of books that come with taking AP Literature and Composition, or I might have drowned in the staggering amount of integral rules that come with Calculus BC.  Luckily for me, the stage crew members were there to build me a boat to survive my sea of homework assignments.  During my freshman year, I struggled with stage crew.  My natural aptitude for STEM courses did not seem to apply when I had a sheet of plywood and a cut list.  I frequently told Mr. Tait, the technical director, that I could not do what he asked of me.  However, with absolute certainty, he would always reply “I believe in you”.  These four words, although annoying at the time, pushed me to become better.  By believing in me, he gave me no choice but to grow.  With this encouragement, I realized that I will not always be able to innately excel, but despite this, I must push myself to become better.  Giving up was not an option when a set had to be built in two months.  Since then, I have applied this lesson to many areas of my life.  Now, when differential functions knock me down, I know I have it in me to get back up again and give it another shot. 

The bond created while working backstage has also supported me throughout high school.  Without the unwavering support of the West Aurora stage crew, Sophomore English Honors would have vanquished me during the Odyssey Unit.  Whenever I feel down or stressed, I know I can count on the stage crew members to suffocate the sadness out of me via bone-crushing hugs and the occasional dog pile.  This support, formed from working countless hours backstage, helped me drag myself through the grueling process that is the American education system.  Without them to support me, I would have spiraled into a homework induced depression.  Luckily, stage crew gave me a place where I could relax while still learning.  Due to their support, I managed to keep my grade up and come graduation time, I will be graduating in the top 5% of my class. I am leaving West Aurora stage crew to pursue a career in Industrial Organizational Psychology, and even though the thought of graduation makes me bittersweet, I know that they would want me to continue to push forward.  Although my career probably won’t involve Gretchen 2 or picking locks, I hope to create teams that inspire the same sort of camaraderie I found in stage crew. 

Batavia High School

From Batavia High School, the recipient was Landon Keller!

The Winning Submission

For some, music is a non-essential element in everyday life. For me, I can’t go a day without tapping my fingers on the table or singing in the shower. Every note I play creates a personalized message just waiting for me to read.

Starting in elementary school, both my teachers and parents noticed that I had considerable trouble in literacy classes, especially Spelling. To fix this, my mother taped paper letters onto each drum and cymbal of my drumset, with the idea that I would have to physically bang out the beat of each word on my weekly spelling list. Although I argued that I didn’t want anything “educational” interfering with my musical endeavors, I quickly learned to love it. This auditory and kinesthetic style helped me remember the rhythm of language.

Although I had been an accomplished school percussionist since fifth grade, I decided to switch to choir in my Junior year of high school. My background in musical theatre prompted that decision. When I started, I found a commonality between vocal arrangements and the structure of high school mathematics…it all came together to form one well-blended composition. The material that I learned in my freshman algebra class came back during senior year pre-calculus class, much like the common tenor voice part is universally utilized to add strain or tension in a chord, which is something I learned far before I began high school choir.

I am very fortunate to be able to go on and study musical theatre as not only a hobby but a career. Music has brought me through the toughest of times, no matter how difficult they may be. The things that I plan to accomplish through music and theatre are endless, and the possibility of changing the world through music keeps getting more tangible every time I play.

East Aurora High School

From East Aurora High School, the recipient was Sam Stade!

The Winning Submission

My name is Sam Stade and for four years I participated in the East Aurora Percussion Techniques class instructed by Joe Kulick. The extra time receiving instruction and practicing may appear to limit my time studying for core classes. However, many skills beneficial to these classes were developed within me through band.

The first skill was perseverance. All complex skills require hours of intense, focused practice. There are many complex skills required for percussion as practically every drum has fifty ways to be played. The countless hours I spent practicing these skills individually taught me how to “grind” efficiently. I could then use these principles to learn new skills in my core classes.

The next skill is teamwork. I’ve performed in many small ensembles where the instructor isn’t present for the rehearsals. Practicing with my peers without an adult leader for the first time was an uncomfortable experience. Who would dictate temp? Who would keep everyone on task? By sharpening our leadership and negotiation skills, we were able to overcome these challenges. I use the same teamwork techniques in my core classes when solving problems with other students.

Finally, I became more independent. When preparing a percussion piece, there are a multitude of details to be analyzed, such as “which specific drum fits the part?”, “which mallets make the best sound?”, “how should I hit the drum?”. There is often not a right or wrong answer to these questions, so my instructor encouraged us to experiment independently. This process helped solidify my uniqueness as an individual and increased my confidence when interacting with the teachers of my core classes.

Band has been an infinitely valuable experience and it is a shame that it’s all put on hold due to the coronavirus. However, I will use the skills band gave me to get through these troubling times: perseverance, teamwork, and independence.

Kaneland High School

From Kaneland High School, the recipient was Jillian Anderson!

The Winning Submission

The performing arts has been a huge part of my life since my first day of band camp back in the summer before 6th grade. I showed up on the first day with my brand new shiny alto saxophone ready to get started. I actually began my music career back in 2nd grade when I began taking piano lessons, so I had a little bit of musical background already to drive my motivation in starting in band. I spent my first few weeks squeaking my way through camp but got the hang of it quickly and by the end of my 6th grade year I was already a part of the pre-jazz lab band, the concert band, and even decided to add choir to the mix. These middle school years testing the waters of my school’s performing arts department was the best decision I have ever made. And now, 6 years later, I am a section leader, play every saxophone my school has along with the piano still and even found another passion: the theater. I am not much of an actor and began my theater journey as a measly little freshman techie working on the fall play. But since then I have found my way through various board op positions, student director, and now stage manager and am one of two full 8 show seniors.

These adventures through the performing arts department have helped me grow as a person more and more every year and have given me an amazing sense of community. I even find myself using the life skills I’ve learned through my journey through the arts in my everyday life and my core classes in school. Being so involved in band and theater has taught me dedication, integrity, responsibility, ownership, creativity, friendship and so much more. These are all skills I can apply in the classroom in subjects like AP Calculus BC and AP Chemistry where I have to stay very focused and diligent in my work, and subjects like Psychology and AP Literature where I have to be creative and think outside the box and be confident in my work for it to be the very best it can be. It has also taught me that there is no “I” in “team”. It has gotten me to be more confident in myself and be a part of teams both in and out of the classroom. I have found it much easier in these last few years to push myself to join groups for projects rather than just do them on my own and make new friends that can help me when I need it. Honestly, the performing arts department at Kaneland has changed my life and I am so proud and grateful to have gotten the chance to be a part of such an amazing community. I will continue to grow throughout the end of my senior year and hope to take all the wonderful skills I have learned along the way with me even after I graduate. It has been an experience I will never forget and always keep with me.

Geneva High School

From Geneva High School, the recipient was Annika Chruscial!

The Winning Submission

Theatre is an undeniably demanding art form – technically, vocally, and emotionally. Performers bear the heavy responsibilities of memorizing texts with dense material and extensive lengths, modulating their voices to be heard and understood across auditoriums, and repeatedly depict raw emotion without any cuts or editing. High school student performers accept an additional layer of difficulty as they must balance academic expectations alongside all these taxing responsibilities onstage.

Yet despite these pressures, the theatre never fails to be an affirmative environment where authenticity, creativity, and beauty flourishes. Participating in theatre as part of the performing arts has encouraged me to maintain an active presence in the classroom and taught me the value of working collaboratively, ultimately allowing me to become more understanding as both a performer on stage and a young woman offstage.

I have always been on the shy and reserved side, which often leads to someone’s surprise when I admit that I’m a theatre kid! I never imagined that drama would be something I’d be comfortable doing, let alone become something I’m incredibly passionate about. But when I first stepped onstage to audition for my middle school’s sixth-grade play, I quickly realized the stunning opportunities that lie in the theatre’s experiences and relationships. The gravity of those opportunities has carried into the classroom by motivating me to be bold in my contributions, improving my presentations and participation grades but eventually my self-confidence. My experiences onstage have easily helped me become more willing to share my opinions, display my passions, and engage in my questions.

Additionally, the collaborative aspect of theatre is beautiful – that people of so many different backgrounds, strengths, and capabilities can come together to generate pure magic. The skills I’ve acquired while learning to create alongside the varying ideas from each student member of a production (including, cast, crew, and pit) have easily transferred into the classroom setting. I feel that theatre has equipped me to better process the mixed information formulated in a group project, appropriately delegate when necessary in a situation involving others, and simply better understand how relationships work, regardless of a title or circumstance.

I will never be able to say thank you enough to the performing arts for everything they have taught me thus far, and I am endlessly grateful for how easily its lessons have revealed themselves in other outlets, including the core education classroom.

Performing Arts Award

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the 2019 recipients of the Chris Patterson Performing Arts Award.

West Aurora High School

From West Aurora High School, the recipient was Amanda Duran!

The Winning Submission

“You’re a BAND kid? How long are your rehearsals? Aren’t they tiring, they take up so much time!”
“You’re a CHOIR kid? Do you ever get tired of the constant singing they do?”
“You’re a THEATRE kid? That explains why you’re so crazy.”

To some degree, I’ve heard all of these comments. Whether they’re subtle inquiries from relatives or straight-to-the-point questions from friends who’ve never experienced pre-show jitters before. And to all of these, I’ve answered yes. Because sure, marching band rehearsals are long and tiring, choir kids do constantly sing, and theatre kids are crazy. But that’s just how it is, and that’s what I appreciate most about the performing arts. And subsequently, it’s those very reasons that have made me a well-rounded learner and person.

It’s a universally known fact that all types of band rehearsals are long, and playing an instrument can get pretty tiring after a while. However, it takes a certain type of person to withstand those long hours of playing and marching in sweltering weather. Marching fundamentals require discipline and great exertion of effort. Keeping yourself motivated to march on even in unpleasant circumstances, for me, has been a large takeaway from my marching band program. Furthermore, playing an instrument takes an equivalent amount of discipline and drive. From finding the right embouchure to produce the tone I want or dedicate my focus to learning the muscle memory required to play those long, hard runs, the band has challenged me in my evolution as a musician. Playing an instrument and being a part of the band has taught me hard work, discipline, and finding purpose in what I do, and applying this to my academic studies and goals in life. I’ve been able to build skills such as time management and an ambitious work ethic-skills that I never would have acquired without band.

The amount of singing that is present in my day can sometimes be a little…much. With one song being hummed to my right and another to my left, it’s hard to not get one or both of them stuck in my head. However, when you look past the many catchy tunes that seem impossible to get out of your head, you’ll find the purest form of love that can be shared from person to person. Songs and melodies are more than just catchy, they’re words and feelings that we as human beings can share with each other. There have been so many choral pieces I’ve sung with my choir that has touched my heart, and I know they’ve touched others as well. They connect the performer to the audience members, singer to conductor, and person to person. These songs we sing connect us to the past, present, and future. It’s why I want to go into music education, to teach the generation after mine to express and find themselves and that music can be shared to bring hope to those around you even when it seems that there’s nothing left to hope for. Singing in a choir has helped me relieve stress and has motivated me to always have a positive outlook in the face of adversity. It’s helped me to be more engaged in my academic studies and to be more curious about the world. But most importantly, it has taught me that success doesn’t always come from yourself on your own, it can come from the strength and bonds you receive from others.

I’ve made lots of friends during my high school career, of all different personalities. But none of them are as unique and fun to be around than theatre kids. Being an extrovert myself, I fit right in! We all understand and have the same love for bringing stories to life and stepping into the shoes of such diverse characters. With that being said, I think one of the most important things being in drama club has taught me is that there is a vast variety of people who bring something unique and different to the table. But when you bring those unique quirks and talents altogether, something really wonderful can be the outcome. This has helped me when it comes to working with others in the classroom. In group projects, I value and appreciate other people’s input more, and am aware that we all learn at our own paces. Hopefully, in my endeavors as a future educator, I will be able to convey this same lesson to my students so that they may learn how to work effectively in groups.

My performing arts classes not only have shaped me into who I am today but have also shaped my outlook on life. They have motivated me in my work ethic, my attitude, and my ambitions, which has subsequently affected my academic studies and skills. I guess you could say I credit much of my academic success to what my performing arts classes have taught me. I wouldn’t be saying this if it weren’t true. Making music has boosted my self-confidence and belief in myself, and by applying the skills I’ve learned from my performing arts classes to my academic ones, I’ve paved myself a path towards a bright future filled with doing what I love to do most.

Batavia High School

From Batavia High School, the recipient was Ellie Baisch!

The Winning Submission

Performing arts, as a whole, has made me into who I am today. It has given me passion, a job, and an education that I am forever grateful for. As I am graduating this May, I have learned a lot about how the performing arts has assisted myself and many others in our general education courses. Music is beneficial in many ways, but specifically, I strongly believe that I was successful throughout my years of education because of the way music trains your memory, patience, and encourages you mentally for success.

A simple piece of music contains at least 100 individual notes; not to mention the accidentals, key changes, time changes, and dynamic marks. All of these elements combined create a very intricate language, and without a doubt, many musicians are required to memorize all of these small details in order to make a piece beautiful. After memorizing piece after piece for concerts, recitals, gigs, etc., when I turn around to study for my basic academics, my brain is more than capable of memorizing and learning the small amount of facts and formulas that come with general courses. Personally, the beginner level classes that I took with simple concepts such as Grammar 1, Spanish 1 and First-Year Algebra were a walk in the park because of the speed I was able to memorize. The knowledge retention that I and other musicians possess is extremely valuable when it comes to the classroom. Along with the memorization skills, the patience musicians are taught goes hand in hand.

Music is often times very frustrating and difficult to work on, especially when there is a difficult spot and no one is there to assist you. Only taking one private lesson a week, I have encountered this issue many times. However, just because my teacher is not sitting next to me, the practice must go on. Though it is frustrating, as concerts approach, musicians have no option but to endure their frustrations and push on. In the classroom, this is also a very real issue. Your teacher is not always going to be there, but that doesn’t change the fact that your test is tomorrow morning! Patience is key to mastering subjects and achieving success, and I strongly believe music has improved this tough life skill for myself and many others.

Most importantly, nothing is possible without motivation. Coming from someone who is truly passionate about playing and teaching music, I would not be where I am had I not made goals for myself and motivated to achieve them.

My orchestra teacher in 8th grade, Ms. Truscello, made a lasting impression on me. Her relentless effort for her students and constant pressure to be the best musician I could be inspired and motivated me to aspire to begin teaching private violin lessons and go to college to become a music educator. So maybe I am a good violinist, or maybe I am patient with my students, but even with these things, I could not have been accepted to the university with a wonderful Music Education degree to pursue my dreams without my academics. Though I had many days of stress from studying and days of thinking “I can’t try any longer”, the happiness that I have received from music and my future goals always motivated me to continue on, to study for that test, to keep going even when I wanted to quit.

During my years of life thus far, I have learned that to gain success in one area, you still must succeed in others. I can personally thank the performing arts for not only teaching me the patience, memorization skills, and giving me distinct motivation in the subject of music, but also for the way it developed my learning and habits in all of my past, current, and future core educational classes.

East Aurora High School

From East Aurora High School, the recipient was Bryan Perez!

The Winning Submission

They say that good students learn the material and the skills that are involved with it, but the best students transfer those skills to other applications in life. Music Education is a very bold example of this principle, as it teaches one about the sciences and techniques to make music happen. I have personally learned a lot of essential skills due to music, and these next few paragraphs will demonstrate how Music Education has impacted other areas of my education.

Music Education teaches you about science. I’m a trumpet player, and before I was in band, I always thought that the average trumpet player uses a certain combination of valve movements and the instrument took care of everything else. Boy, was I wrong. As it turns out, a lot of the work comes from the chest and the face. Those two have to work in harmony to try and create a vibration, one that will resonate with the tubing of the instrument. Music is a series of waves that are intertwined with other waves to create the sounds that we hear it as. When the average person hears a sound, that’s all they think of it as; just a sound. However, it is the science behind the sound that is truly astonishing. The resonance, the wave, and the wavelength is what I think about. Then I think of how I try to create different waves and wavelengths with myself and the instrument to create music, which seems like an ordinary thing for an average person, but remains a truly remarkable thing for a musician.

Music Education teaches you about history. Learning about the different styles, the origins of styles, and about the lives of many composers often adds a certain feel to the music. It’s more than just playing a song in Latin, or playing a Sousa march. It’s how the style and the composer have worked to create the piece of music. It’s often that we talk about different time periods in history, such as the Italian Renaissance, or the Roaring Twenties, and music is only briefly mentioned. This is where one can make a connection to Music Education. Cultures, politics, and other things may have been different, but the one thing that truly remains the same is the existence of music, and the take that composers have used to create it. From rondeaus to jazz, and from Paolo da Firenze to Benny Goodman, Music Education teaches you about history.

Music Education teaches you about math as well. Music uses numbers all the time. One is always thinking about numbers, whether it’s to count rests, or to count the number of measures in a given phrase, it’s almost like a second nature to musicians. Without math and numbers, music cannot be possible. It adds a certain order to the music, to keep everything together, and is what often gives the music its distinct style. Whether it’s a piece written in 7/8, 5/8, ¾, or common time, math and numbers are an essential part to music education. Math is often used to find patterns, and just like how there’s patterns in music, you could just as easily find a pattern in mathematics.

Music Education teaches you about one of the “universal languages”, the others being numbers, art, and one’s emotions. There are so many different languages, but every musician can sit down, read the piece of music, and agree on the same things. Music Education is a form of art, allowing expression through various chords, melodies, and harmonies. Many different cultures, many different styles, and many different interpretations of music is what makes it a unique art. From expressing sorrow through an eulogy, or expressing one’s inner machinations with a symphony, music is one of the few things that we can all interpret the same way. Music Education is vital to help preserve the rich history that it contains. It provides a taste of all the major subjects that one will learn, and can be used to better interpret these subjects and to better interpret the connections that one will make with the music. It is a form of art that surrounds us every single day, and will ring in the hearts of billions for years to come. The science, history, math, and reading involved in music helps to make music what it is, and will keep evolving and keep becoming an essential part of life for many people, for generations to come.

Performing Arts Award

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the 2018 recipients of the Chris Patterson Performing Arts Award.

West Aurora High School

From West Aurora High School, the recipient was Charlie Griswold!

The Winning Submission

Being a member of choir through all my years of school has really helped shape me into the student that I am today. Ever since 6th grade, I have been part of choir through the West High School District. From my first day of 6th-grade choir to my approaching final days in Acapella, I have loved every second. For me, music is SO much more than just a bunch of notes on a page waiting to be sung. Through music, I am able to express myself, communicate my emotions, and connect with my peers in a way that I would be unable to through sport and other activities alone. Being in choir has given me so many unique opportunities to experiences that I am able to utilize not only within myself but also with my academics. It has taught me that no matter how hard something is, such as a 40-page song that needs to be memorized, hard work and dedication will help you accomplish anything. As they say, practice makes perfect! Choir has shown me that this lesson is the truth. Whether it takes the form of learning a new song, to studying for a Calculus test, the common principle stands. Also, it has taught me that it is ok to venture outside of my comfort zone. From solos in concerts to notes that I know are WAY out of my range, I know that its ok to make mistakes and try new thing. This also helps my academics. IF I ever need to give a presentation or speech, I know that a mistake will not cause me to burst into flames, but rather offer an opportunity to improve and learn from my mistakes by not letting them define me as a person. Likewise, choir is the perfect opportunity for me to relax from my busy schedule and to just melt into song. With a job, extracurricular activities, varsity athletics, and academics, sometimes it gets overwhelming and I lose hope in my abilities to manage it all. With music, I am able to relax, have fun, and regain my focus and drive for all of my classes. Finally, choir has taught me accountability and leadership. If I want myself and my section to learn a song, we take the time to look over it and practice it until we can’t get it wrong. Likewise, in my classes, it has shown me that if I’m falling behind in a class, I need to set up appointments with teachers, study the material, and work at it until I get the grade I want. All in all, I am so grateful for everything that choir has given me. It has had a positive impact on not only my academics but my character as well. I am very grateful for everything the gift of music has given me, and I look forward to how my love of music will continue to guide me through the coming years of my life.

Batavia High School

From Batavia High School, the recipient was Rachel Eng!

The Winning Submission

The Strength of Music

Everything I have, I owe to music. This conclusion was not made until my later years of dedication; at first, the performing art was a time filler, an extra ball to juggle in the act. Truthfully, the cello was not my first choice in an instrument. Upon my first instinct, I had wanted to play the trumpet. I am grateful only years later that my mother had purposefully waiting in the orchestra line, knowing that our house did not need more noise, I was enrolled into the school program, would find my private teacher, and see many people drop out of orchestra before hitting high school. It is at this coming of age when I would fall deeply and hopelessly in love with the strength of music. 

Orchestra extends beyond a musical experience- it constantly teaches lessons of obtaining patience and an immense ambition to be the best possible version of yourself. Perfecting a piece of music requires attention and patience, skills that I would later apply to my academics. Studying for history is a matter of undivided attention and the restraint of frustration that I had learned when practicing the same three tricky measures over and over again. Memorizing formulas were bounded by memorizing melodies, the answers hidden within. Music helped me find myself academically, and I would push the standards set for myself. I saw the levels I could surpass as a musician, and saw endless opportunities as a scholar. 

Music has a way of bringing communities together. It crosses all bounds of race, hate, anxiety, depression, and social norms to bring peace and love. Performing the instrument I have grown to adore brings me a sense of accomplishment; it rests my family from their constant juggling acts. It connects the back of the room to the front, and the raw exposure of the stage leaves no room for judgement of doubt. I am a cellist by my own doing, I am a musician by my own learning, I am a student because of music.