ABI FERNANDEZ, B '14
International student, pianist, cellist, school photographer, and vocalist with a newly acquired love of the trombone.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT VANDERCOOK? I was born in Abu Dhabi, UAE, but I'm a citizen of the Philippines. I found out about VanderCook when my friend handed me a book listed with thousands of colleges. I went straight to the arts section and went through all the universities listed for music and I came across VanderCook College of Music.
WHY IS MUSIC IMPORTANT TO YOU? I feel as though music is part of me. That is to say that I couldn't live without it in my life. I can hear it everywhere, the low hum of the AC, the rustling of the leaves in the trees, it is part of us and the environment we live in. It is a form of expression and conversation. Imagine if we were all born with expressionless faces, if everything was white or black, if food didn't have different flavors or taste. No one would ever know when one was happy or sad, no one would see the beauty of flowers or the sea, no one would be able to differentiate between dirt or a cool, creamy ice cream.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT HERE AT VANDERCOOK? Definitely the first time playing the trombone. It was my first wind instrument and the instrument that I had to play in band. I took one look at it and thought, "How the heck do you make a sound on this thing?" But under the guidance of the low brass instructor, Mr. Young, and several helpful peers, I managed to get through it and was able to play most of the band music by the time The Midwest Clinic came around.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE VANDERCOOK EXPERIENCE? Hectic. There are a lot of things thrown in your way while you are here, studying at VanderCook. It just prepares you for how life would be as a teacher. Constantly on the go, preparing for the next step.
WHAT MAKES CHICAGO A GREAT CITY IN WHICH TO GO TO COLLEGE? Chicago has the CSO. What more can you ask for? Mind-blowing and inspiring performances at a discounted student rate, it's a great way to pass the time and experience what a great orchestra would sound like. They also hold open rehearsals so you can actually see how they rehearse. It's a great learning experience.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY? I have had my fair share of challenges and break downs, being so far away from my family and all. There are times when I practice and I feel like I've hit a plateau. Life is very hectic and sometimes you feel as though there isn't time to take care of yourself but you just have to remember to slow down and take everything in stride. I find that talking to faculty, friends and family really helps relieve the pressure.
WHEN YOU GRADUATE, WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH? If given the opportunity, I would love to stay in Chicago and teach private piano lessons or high school choir.
WHAT DO YOU DO BESIDES MUSIC? I'm an avid photographer. I wouldn't consider myself a professional but a very enthusiastic hobbyist. I just love how you can capture a moment, expression or feeling at the push of a button.
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If you or someone you know would like to make teaching music your profession, please contact our admissions team at (312) 788-1120.