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Revealing Hidden Artists
Kevin Chen '18 Associate Editor
November 16, 2016

Deerfield’s demanding workload and high expectations make it difficult for some students to pursue all of their interests. Some students are not able to attend school-organized music programs, such as orchestra and chorus, due to conflicts with other activities. Yet, despite their busy schedules and the lack of recognition on the stage, some of these students have pursued their musical interests on their own time.

For example, Madisen Siegel ’17 has played classical piano since 2nd grade. She was very involved with classical piano before coming to Deerfield, and earning a silver medal in the Forte International Music Competition.

Tai Thongthai `17 frequents the recording studio to create original compositions and hone his singing skills. Credit: Roopa Venkatraman
Tai Thongthai `17 frequents the recording studio to create original compositions and hone his singing skills.
Credit: Roopa Venkatraman

At Deerfield, Siegel has private piano lessons with Private Music Teacher Barbara Lipstadt since her freshman year and goes to the practice rooms in her free time. However, Siegel has had a hard time fitting arts classes into schedule, and her club meetings interfere with out-of-class groups such as the orchestra.

“I think it can be difficult for athletes to express their artistic side at Deerfield,” Siegel remarked.

Tai Thongthai ’17 also plays classical piano, which he began studying by the age of four.

He explained, “I started off as a competition pianist, but I didn’t really like it, so I play music more for enjoyment and self-expression.”

During his time at Deerfield, Thongthai has explored other facets of music as well. He started voice during freshman year and loves to sing in his free time. He also started producing electronic music at Deerfield.

Thongthai explained, “Producing is a great way to express how I feel, and my music often reflects my mood at that time.”

Like Siegel, though, Thongthai feels that room for artistic expression is limited by the rigorous schedule at Deerfield.

“It is difficult for me to find large chunks of time to pursue my interests in music, but I love playing piano or singing when I have free time because music a great stress reliever,” he said.

Mary Mack Brown ’18 started playing the mandolin four years ago. Before then, she played the guitar but wanted to try something different.

“Originally I started playing it because my mother loved the way it sounded, but after playing it for about a week I began to love the sound as well,” she said.

Brown takes mandolin lessons once a week during a free period and also practices it during the week if she has free time.

She elaborated, “I do feel like there is adequate time to practice mandolin at Deerfield, but I always wish I had more time for it.”

Deerfield has many resources to aid students interested in the arts and many teachers who are passionate about helping student musicians improve. For example, the practice rooms in the basement of the Hess Center are open for the Deerfield community to use for both individual practicing and collaboration.

As some final advice to all “hidden artists” at Deerfield, Music Teacher Mr. John Van Eps said, “Music works best as a shared experience. Surround yourself with other musicians, talk about what problems you are having and what pieces you are working on, and share your stories.”