Catching Up with ETM-LA Alumna Sunny
“Music is just something that clicked for me.
And to this day, it’s the only time I think
I find mental clarity.”
We recently caught up with ETM-LA Alumna Sunny, Class of 2020 High School Graduate:
How did having music class at Castelar Elementary help develop your love of music?
It was pretty much where my entire love for music had begun. I never thought I’d be able to play a classical instrument let alone for this long. Whether it had been singing, playing the violin, playing the recorder, I was always somehow very engaged with the subject matter. Music is just something that clicked for me. And to this day it’s the only time I think I find mental clarity.
How has music impacted your life?
Music has become the center stage of my entire personality. Regardless of what I do and where I am, people know me as the girl who plays the violin. I carried my violin on my back every day to school through public transportation for about 7 years. There probably wasn’t one day where someone didn’t ask me “What’s in the case?”. Regardless of how many times I’ve been asked this question I always reply with a smile and say “It’s a violin!”
What have been some highlights and pivotal experiences for you throughout your musical growth and career?
Some of the really important moments are the simplest ones. I’ve been blessed to see so many galas, perform on so many wonderful stages. However, the most pivotal moment was through my high school experience. I realized that I play music for fun and because it brings me joy. Sometimes musical growth is realizing that you aren’t your instrument.
Tell us about your experience of playing at the GRAMMY Awards!
To this day I still can’t believe I was able to attend something that I’ve been watching my entire life. Being at the Grammys is an indescribable experience. It truly felt like a dream. I do wish that someone was there with me to write down everything that happened because it felt like a blur.
What are your plans for college? What are you excited about learning and doing there?
As of now, I will be attending Santa Monica College to get my associates in communication studies. Eventually, I want to pursue a career in law and it’s been a dream of mine since I was about 10 years old. I haven’t had a lot of experience in that category and I cannot wait to start speaking up on issues that I am passionate about in a class setting.
You have done some mentoring of other violin students, like Rogelio. What do you like about teaching younger kids?
For most of my life, I decided that teaching was not a job that I would ever want. Mostly because I may be the most impatient person I’ve ever met. But somehow, being able to teach these kids about music brought me back to when I was their age and it made the whole experience more relatable in a way. Somehow, I learned a lot more from them than I taught. I believe that’s one of the makings of a wonderful teacher and it brought into perspective why teachers love teaching.
How has learning music encouraged your sense of expression? How has it influenced or inspired your resilience and determination?
Before I started playing the violin, I believe I didn’t understand how to communicate and this created a barrier between me and others. I didn’t know how to speak up, let alone be outspoken. Music gave me a sense of courage and taught me that communication is key. When you’re in a section with other musicians, you need to be able to express yourself and your concerns with the people around you so it makes you more unified. There are very few things in life that unify people in this way and it was very intriguing to me.
You’ve previously talked about how music can be healing and it “brings people together, unites them, and forms a sense of connectedness.” How do you feel it has enabled you to connect and create bridges? To communicate with others?
If you take the time to think about it, when you’re in a section of other individuals who are working towards the same goal as you in terms of trying to create or recreate a piece of art,
the process is not easy. You need to make sure that you’re paying attention to everyone involved as well as communicating with everyone so you get the best performance possible. Music is a team effort and it’s a valuable life skill that I notice I use even outside of when I’m actively playing music.
Why should all children receive in-school music education?
All children want is a chance. If we teach them at a young age that they can do big things no matter the circumstances that they’re in, they can save the world. I believe that wholeheartedly because it happened to me and I want to see it continue to happen for aspiring students everywhere.
What advice would you give to the younger generation today?
If you’re happy with what you’re doing, no one can say you are not successful. You have to take control of your own happiness.