Prep Talk Blog > August 2009

With a few extra limbs, Olivia Duell could start a one-woman band. The rising Dryden High School student has studied piano since age six, has participated in state and local choruses for several years, and is currently the lead chair in her school's jazz band for which she plays the saxophone. The essay she wrote about how she narrowed down her college options won her spot on our website as a guest blogger chronicling her senior year and her search for the perfect school to match her musical talents.

Not only is she musically gifted, but Olivia is as accomplished in the classroom as she is on stage. Ranked tenth in her class, the honor student was named the Advanced Placement US History Student of the Year and serves as the vice president of the National Honor Society chapter at her school.

What's next for this scholar musician? A big-city school and a career in the music industry. Olivia, who is from Dryden, New York and is "intensely fascinated" with New York City, has wanted to attend New York University ever since she learned of its highly competitive Recorded Music program. An avid consumer of music, she says, " I simply [can]not get my hands on enough new bands to listen to." Last summer, she took a music production class which taught her how to create tracks using software like GarageBand.

"I really love playing music, but I love listening to it more," Olivia says. "I’d love a career that would allow me to somehow interact with bands, producers, [and] music magazines."

This summer, her talent is being put to good use at the Salvation Army Music Conservatory, where she is a music instructor for children. (Her internship was arranged through a United Way program that pairs up high school students with local community organizations.)

Besides NYU, she's also considering schools like Ithaca College, Cornell University, Drexel University, and Northeastern. After visiting campuses and narrowing down her choices, she's certain that all of the schools who made it on her final list will offer a  "comfortable fit".

But until then, she's teaching herself guitar.

Starting next week, read the MyCollegeOptions blog to follow Olivia through her senior year of high school as she makes crucial decisions about where her lifelong passion for music will lead.

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Don Munce