This spring, Aurora Celestin had a problem most high school seniors would envy: Which college should she choose after receiving acceptance letters from Harvard, Columbia, Barnard, Smith, Wellesley, Swarthmore, Fordham, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, The New School and Hunter College?
Like many of this year’s Lucy Moses School graduates, Aurora has more or less grown up at the school. She began ballet lessons at age three, adding piano lessons with Chaim Freiberg in kindergarten and violin lessons in seventh grade. A well-rounded musician, Aurora has also studied music theory, history and composition at LMS. “Trying different things here, and the fact that you can do everything from acting to music and dance is amazing,” she says.
For Aurora, music has served as a powerful outlet for creative expression. She particularly enjoys the drama of pieces by some of her favorite composers, Beethoven, Chopin and Tchaikovsky. “I learned a lot about myself at Lucy Moses School,” says Aurora. “I learned what it meant to be a performer. I learned what it meant to listen to other musicians, and look at other artists and learn from them. There are so many talented students and faculty at LMS.”
Studying music has played a big role in Aurora’s success. The discipline and dedication honed by years of practice carry over to many aspects of her life. She credits the frequent performance opportunities at LMS with developing invaluable life skills. “Getting on stage time after time here has helped me to present myself to an audience, to deal with being in front of other people and sharing my work.” In addition, “music has taught me to be flexible, and that there’s always room to look at a problem in different ways, to grow in different ways, to analyze.”
Did Aurora’s musical training give her a leg up when applying to colleges? “Definitely,” she confirms. “Colleges want to see that students are talented in different ways. It isn’t enough just to be smart and do well in school and get good grades.” Memorizing facts and doing well on standardized tests are one measure of success but don’t necessarily speak to who you are as an individual, she explains. “I was able to include my experiences as a musician and performer in college applications. It’s something more human than just grades and scores.”
But back to Aurora’s big decision about where to attend college this fall: She’s chosen Columbia University, where she plans to explore religion and philosophy, international relations and human rights. While she doesn’t expect to major in music, it will remain an important part of her life. “I want to keep it as something special to explore with other students and grow,” she says, “and continue to work on my craft.”
Kaufman Music Center wishes all the best for Aurora and the other 2016 graduates as they move on to college and new adventures, musical and otherwise! Click here to meet the 2016 Lucy Moses School graduates.