Transferring on a high note

Transferring on a high note

Elizabeth Lopez plays violin, accompanied by Michelle Do on piano at the AMP Student Showcase on Feb 22, 2024. Photo by Veronica Rosas

When Paulette Santa Maria started college, she didn’t think she’d be able to turn her talent for singing into a career. Four semesters later, she performed as part of the Applied Music Program (AMP) showcase—culminating her time at Pierce before she transfers to California State University, Northridge in the fall to study music therapy.

The AMP showcase was held in the Performing Arts Building on Thursday and featured six performances, with students whose instruments range from voice to bassoon. 

“AMP has really helped me gain my confidence and has helped me grow as a singer,” Santa Maria said. “Before AMP, I never realized that music could be something I get to do in the future.”

Each of the student performers is in the process of transferring to a four-year university, in order to study music performance, musicology, composition or music education. 

“I was excited to be here and it was great to perform,” said vocalist Hasti Almasi, a recent AMP graduate. “It was a full-circle moment to come and showcase what I’ve worked towards one last time.”

As an audition-based, four-semester program, succeeding in AMP takes perseverance, AMP Director Charlotte Wilkins said. A lot of preparation goes into honing their skills before AMP students take the stage at each performance and audition, with many students practicing two or more hours a day in addition to music classes and other responsibilities, according to Wilkins.

“They truly care about what they’re doing and it shows in their dedication to their practice and in their performances,” Wilkins said. “Regardless of their transfer outcomes for different universities, I’m so proud. It’s not easy to apply for any degree, but music has additional hoops to jump through. Yet they take it all in stride and with professionalism.”

According to Wilkins, the students built up for their performance on Thursday and their transfer auditions not only with practice and classes, but also with the one-on-one lessons that AMP offers. 

Wilkins said the AMP application is due in June for the next cohort of Pierce musicians. 

The showcase was part of a larger series of weekly concerts this spring, organized by ASO.

“It was really nice to have this opportunity for the students,” ASO Concert Director Kevin Good said. “It will hopefully create a sort of feedback loop where a lot of students who are beginning the AMP program now can see themselves on stage in a couple years.”

For Almasi, who plans to study music education in the fall at either California State University, Long Beach, where she was recently accepted, or another university, this performance and the larger AMP experience proved to be memorable. 

“I don’t think that I would be anywhere close to where I am today without AMP,” Almasi said. “It set me up with the exact fundamentals I needed to pursue music.”

Upcoming concerts will be held on Thursdays at 1 p.m. in the Performing Arts Building, free of charge. The spring concert series will include both professional and student musicians.

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