By Jaime Thomas
When Natalie Haines and Josh Shaw got acceptance letters in the mail to play music in Europe next summer, they couldn’t believe it.
Neither had even applied yet to a program. But unbeknownst to them, their elementary music teache,r Sean Boyd, had sent in a letter recommending them to American Music Abroad.
Boyd said the two had approached him earlier in the year after learning of fellow student, Phil Hicks, going on the trip. So he told Haines and Shaw to put in enough effort to receive high enough grades on their NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) solo that he could send in their information.
Both of them did well.
“I knew the people to get in touch with, but it was about if they made the grades. At the end of the day they did all the work. They worked hard this year—hats off to them,” Boyd said.
Both Haines, who plays trumpet, and Shaw, who plays tuba, are sophomores and have been playing their respective instruments for six years. They’re both looking forward to next year’s trip, during which they’ll travel to Italy, Austria, German, France and Switzerland.
“It’s one of those once in a lifetime things—how many people get to say at this age they went to Europe,” Shaw said.
Before they leave they’ll spend an intensive week practicing with the other 140 New York and New Jersey students in the program and put on a concert for their own parents. Boyd said along with being an enriching experience for Haines and Shaw, the trip will look good on college applications.
“This will definitely stick out. They not only visited other countries, but they performed. They‘re representing us and our music to other countries,” he said.
“For both of us there’s a chance to go further with music, and this will definitely help with experience,” she said. But the trip will be more than performing.
“We’ll do a lot of sight-seeing, it’s not all just music,” Haines said. Both she and Shaw said they’re most looking forward to the canal ride they’ll take in Venice.
Boyd, who has already been on four of these trips, thinks the program will benefit the two tremendously.
“It’s always good to find the next experience. To go overseas with your peers, to be able to play overseas as a teenager—the experience I see from high school kids is just outstanding,” he said. “The people you don’t know, by the end of three weeks they’re your best friend.”
Both students said they see music as something that comes naturally, is fun and helps with everyday life.
“It expresses something that can’t be said in language, like emotions and moods,” Shaw said.
In order to help cover the $5,000 costs associated with the trip, Shaw and Haines will be holding various fundraisers, from chicken barbeques to a comedy show, until they have enough money. Ask them more about their trip tonight at their bake sale at the summer concert series in Veterans Park from 7 to 9 p.m.