By Dalton Letorney
More than eleven years ago, I arrived at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) to take Suzuki piano lessons to help with my childhood anxiety. My grandmother had discovered research about anxiety-relieving effects in making and listening to music, and she wished such relief for me, so she suggested that I pursue piano lessons. Since I first set foot on campus, SSC has become my second home.
I recall the thrill of playing a complete song that first day, one of the huge benefits of the Suzuki method, a process in which one learns music by ear. I stayed with my first teacher until he retired, and was concerned about changing teachers until I met piano instructor Eric Lane who truly changed my life. He encouraged me to listen to styles of music other than classical, such as pop and rock. He also gave me lessons in music theory, taught me songwriting, chords and their variations, lyric-writing, and a whole lot of improvisation, and his incredible teaching inspired me to arrange and compose my own music.
At eleven, I also fell in love with singing. Over the past seven years, I’ve studied with a number of incredible voice faculty members, starting with Beth MacLeod Largent. Working with Beth alongside my piano lessons with Eric, my voice strengthened and I acquired perfect pitch. I realized that no note sounds quite like any other note, and as a singer, one must be exceptionally conscious of melodies and pitches, for every pitch is meticulously produced by human action.
After a short break from singing as my voice change progressed, and I found myself with a brand-new instrument. Vocal production needed to be relearned, for I could not sing notes with the same coordination and resonance as I had done so easily before. In came Lorna Jane Norris, an incredible voice teacher (“crafter,” I prefer) who meticulously tuned my voice through careful resonance balance. Over four years, Lorna has helped me evolve into not only a vocalist, but also a unique artist with an individual sound. Our lessons are often filled with not only vocal exercises, but also laughter and fun.
SSC also provided several classes and performance opportunities outside of studio lessons. When I was eleven, I joined the SSC’s cast of Cinderella, my first an opera production. I also joined Saturday Stage Club, an acting class that helped me become more comfortable as an actor and gain confidence as a performer on stage. I spent a summer as a student in Summer Stage Camp, as well as multiple summers as a student in SVI (Summer Vocal Institute) where, one summer, I arranged the company’s final performance number, and which married my score notation skills with my love of creating arrangements.
I also attended multiple SSC Open Mic nights and Monster Jams to solidify my performing experience in a supportive environment. I’ve also competed and won awards in various both piano and voice competitions. More recently, I’ve interned at Jazz/Rock/Pop summer camps, volunteered at SSC events, and performed on stage numerous times during Duxbury Music Festivals. I’ve also been invited to perform at numerous events such as SSC’s Chase Away the Winter Blues fundraiser.
What I’ll miss most when I graduate this year is South Shore Conservatory’s amazing faculty members and fellow students. We’re all tethered together in an intimate family. I love the encouraging and supportive nature of everyone in the organization. Without SSC’s inspiration, support, and encouragement, I would not have fallen so deeply in love with music.
As I enter Boston College in the fall, I’m excited about BC’s double majoring opportunities, and the ease with which I can keep music in my school career despite the academic rigor. I’m confident that music will always lead me in the direction that is most ideal for me. While I have dreams of being a successful musician, I also have passions in applied mathematics and sciences, specifically biology and organic chemistry. If I pursue a pre-med track in college, I will utilize my love of the human voice to become a laryngologist or voice pathologist. Either way, the foundation of music will keep me grounded, inspired, and ready to apply my knowledge and experiences to any aspect of my life.