Students aspire to pursue music careers


Photo by Veda Thangudu.

Standing, farthest person on the right, is Jamie Walton Jr., performing for a live audience at the black heritage celebration.

     From listening to albums for comfort to expressing feelings through instruments and lyrics, music can play an important role in many people’s lives. However, for seniors Aiden Hughes, Jamie Walton Jr. and Ella Hart, they want their entire career to revolve around their love for music. 

     “Music in general has been a part of my life since forever,” Walton Jr. said. “It was just natural for me to pick [music] up as a major, because it feels as if that’s the only thing I can do.”

     Both Hart and Walton Jr. were pushed into the music world at a young age. Walton Jr. looked up to his father, who was musically involved. 

Jamie Walton Jr. is playing the trumpet for the first time with the help of his musically inclined father. (Photo used with permission of Jamie Walton Jr. )

     “My love for music began when my dad would play music for me on the way to my fourth grade dance club,” Hart said. “We just had a bond from that. Then, when I picked up viola in fifth grade, I could turn that memory into something real.”

     It is common for many aspiring musicians to look up to someone successful in the music world as a guide to finding their musicality. Walton Jr. is mainly inspired by classical artists, since that is the genre Walton Jr. finds himself playing the most.

     “I think meeting Wynton Marsalis recently was my fondest memory,” Walton Jr. said. “Mainly because he gave me so many tips. That’s the one thing that I appreciate, and I will forever thank him for it one day.”

     All three have plans to major in music-related careers. Hart is planning on attending Ball State to study music media production, while Hughes has not decided on a school yet, but is leaning towards Eastman School of Music due to their percussion ensemble program. Walton Jr. is torn between Indiana University and Cleveland Institute of Music but thinks he will most likely choose Cleveland due to one of his idols, Michael Sachs, attending the school previously. 

     Passion and love for the art they create when they write or perform music is what drives them to fully commit their lives to it. 

     “I have always been passionate about music,” Hart said. “Being able to turn my passion into a feasible career, whilst being able to share my art with the world is something I’m really excited to pursue.”

     According to Hughes and Walton Jr., without passion, it is very difficult to be able to succeed in the music industry. For one, it takes away a key component for motivation and musicality. Walton Jr. believes that an artist that masters technicality but lacks musicality is deprived of the ability to set their music aside and make an impact.

     “Don’t just play the notes,” Hughes said. “There have been many pieces where I’ve performed for lessons and been told that I haven’t been doing anything musical. While this is a harsh thing to be told, every time it leads to me digging deeper into the piece than I thought possible.”

     Although a lot of time and effort go into pursuing music professionally, a common misconception is that music is only a hobby and is not a real job. Furthermore, according to Hughes, many people have the preconceived notion that musicians can only be successful if they have a title to their name or are extremely popular.

     “The biggest misconception is that you can only make a living from music unless you ‘make it,’” Hughes said. “There are plenty of careers in music that make for good lifestyles that don’t consist of becoming famous. I think of it like this: just because only 1% of business majors become millionaires doesn’t mean that it’s nearly impossible to make a living in business. The same is true for music.”

     Hart is a prime example of the unnecessity of being famous in the music industry. She only wants success with her pieces, and to be known for her work just as the two composers Hans Zimmers and John Williams are. 

     Walton Jr., on the other hand, dreams of joining a professional orchestra as a trumpet player as well as making an impact on performing arts, specifically music, as a whole. 

     “While I’m doing [playing the trumpet for a professional orchestra], I would like to also teach as a professor in college. Somewhere down the line, I would like to mentor other younger musicians, as well as build performing arts schools in less fortunate neighborhoods.”

     A commonality between most artists when it comes to music is the expression and emotion they are able to include. Hart sees music as a way to help organize her thoughts, while also being able to create impactful art. 

     “Music provides a grounded medium that I can come back to,” Hughes said.When I feel like everything in life is out of my control, I can play music and feel more grounded and in control of myself.”