The Bay School Blog sat down with alumnus Jake to talk about high school memories, what’s stuck with him and how he got where he is today.
What are you up to now?
I am a piano and environmental studies major at Oberlin College.
What was The Bay School like for you?
The relationships students are able to cultivate with teachers are really unique. While I was here, [teacher] Colin Williams was always so supportive, always here to talk to, ready to play music and have fun – just a great person. The teachers are people you feel comfortable talking to. They taught me to think critically and interdisciplinarily.
What classes did you take in the arts at The Bay School?
I took all the music classes, Jazz, Composition. I was in the after-school band and the Jazz Club.
What artists do you like?
I really like Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans. I listen to them a lot lately. John Coltrane, Miles Davis. There’s classical too. I really like Beethoven. He’s one of my favorite composers. I actually study with a teacher now who’s a Beethoven expert. I like Shostakovich. Oberlin has a lot of really modern stuff too. They have cutting edge, really new music. It’s cool to figure out all these creative composers.
When did you decide to pursue music in college?
I studied classical performance and then ventured into jazz in high school. Halfway through high school I thought about doing music in college.
Classical piano performance is my major, and I’m in jazz ensemble. I get credit for the ensemble, and it’s also really fun. I had to audition because I’m not a jazz major. It’s great to be in a program where I can do both.
Tell me about your decision to attend The Bay School.
Music was on my mind a little bit in choosing The Bay School, and I applied to other schools at the time that had more musical offerings, but I think the humanities program [at The Bay School] sounded really cool and the classes on religion too. It seemed like a different place than other high schools; partially in just the way it felt. It was a little more progressive.
What do you recall learning about performance at The Bay School?
A better performance comes from more experiences. The more you can learn and experience in life contributes to your performance. There’s definitely a crossover between music and literature.
What has helped you become a better person? How has performing helped you?
It’s powerful. It’s a good feeling. A de-stressor. It’s something I’ll always have. Performing in front of people has gotten easier. It helps me with presentations I give by myself. At the start of the semester in college I gave a presentation on community service. It was about leadership and engagement in the community and working with community partners.
Did you play at Morning Meeting? What was it like?
It wasn’t solo the first time and that was more comfortable. We could depend on each other. You can bounce off each other and cover for each other.
What was freshman year of college like?
It was awesome. I was overwhelmed – presented with all these new things. There are so many things going on and you have to constantly be choosing which thing you want to do. It can be tough.
What’s your favorite thing about being in college?
It’s been really cool to connect with so many other peers and more members of the community. I’m interning with a community organization and there are so many more opportunities through the school. I’m finding more and more people who are interested in the same things that I am.
When people ask what your high school was like, what do you tell them?
My high school was forward-thinking. The classes were based on discussion. I think that’s something a lot of high schools don’t have. My classes in college are similar. Oberlin is cool because as a freshman I have the opportunity to be in a 15-person class. And I have opportunities to do research.
What image comes to mind when you think of The Bay School?
In Colin’s Humanities class he was jumping up on the table because he was so passionate about something.
Why would you recommend that artistic students come to The Bay School?
All the other wonderful things you get at The Bay School are so important. I was interacting with peers doing other things that I hadn’t thought of. I think having a wider scope is always helpful for art and for everything. It can make you a more well-rounded person, and I appreciate that.