This month we’d like to showcase a student who surprised us with a wonderful performance at our recent Thursday Night Lights concert on Flemington Main Street: 16-year-old Sydney Atkinson.
What do you study at YOUniversity of Music and Arts, and who have been your teachers here?
I am taking classical guitar lessons with Tom Amoriello and I’m a part of The True Voice Project with Adam Kishbauch!
What do you like about playing the guitar?
I like that I can create something beautiful just by pressing down on some strings. Every time I practice guitar, I feel like I’m accomplishing something and slowly the parts that I practice get better and soon the entire song comes together!
You did a fabulous job performing for our recent Thursday Night Lights event on Flemington Main Street. In fact, the video clip we’re publishing with this article was taken that very night. You sang several songs while accompanying yourself on the guitar. How did you become interested in being a singer/guitarist, and is your guitar teacher (Tom Amoriello) working with you on the vocals as well?
Taylor Swift was a big influence because it was so unreal to me to see a girl like her on stage with her guitar singing songs that she wrote when she was only sixteen! Yes, Tom [Amoriello] is working with me on playing classical pieces as well as playing music I can sing with. Playing both types of music at the same time is very cool because the techniques I learn with one style can be transferred to the other.
What kinds of music do you play? Who are your musical idols? Are you composing your own songs, and is songwriting something you are interested in pursuing further?
I play a lot of different music, however I play most of my classical studies and a mix of pop songs and alternative____________. My musical idols are a mix of famous musicians and some maybe not so famous artists. I lived in Memphis, Tennessee for a while, and one of my close family friends, Ryan Paule, was in a local band. He was the first person to give me the opportunity to perform out in public and meet other local musicians, some being given great opportunities themselves, like Patrick Dodd! My dad’s friend, Jeff LaQuatra, was the first person to introduce me to classical guitar, and, of course, there’s also Taylor Swift! I have written some songs, but recently I haven’t written anything new. However, I am definitely interested in composing new music!
What do you like about being a student at HAA/YOUniversity of Music and Arts?
I love that being involved here has given me the opportunity to work with people of all ages! Getting to interact with people my age with The True Voice Project is helping me prepare for jobs and seeing people younger and older than me play complicated pieces of music on their guitars is wonderful because I can see what I need to work to improve on!
We know that you are a member of our True Voice Project ensemble, but do you currently play in a band, and if so, tell us more about that.
No, I’m currently not in a band but it’s something I’d love to do.
What kind of music do you like to listen to in your free time?
I listen to a mixture of different music, though I find myself listening to a lot of Alternative Rock and pop.
What would you like to do after graduating from high school? Any plans to pursue a music career?
I would love to pursue a career in music, weather I’m playing and writing the music or producing it. I would be happy in any and all aspects of it.
Other than your music studies, what are your favorite activities?
I like to cook, bake all kinds of dairy free treats, and I like to crochet hats, gloves, and scarves.
What else would you like to tell us about yourself?
I have a dog named Barney, one younger sister, and two parents who all support me very much!