Thursday, August 11, 2016

Shaped By Music


I find it really odd - but in a charming way - that every summer for the past 6 or 7 years, a summer intern has shown up out of the blue. It's not like I'm putting up Help Wanted signs in high school hallways, but every year someone presents themselves to me and says, "Hey, can I learn from you?" Usually (but not always) it's a student from U-Prep, just like this summer's intern, Ayla Clark.

Ayla was one of the first humans I met after moving to Redding back in 2002. She doesn't remember me from that far back, but on my second night in town, I met all my neighbors, and one of them wasn't old enough to talk yet. That was Ayla, a little baby who was fortunate to have parents who love and encourage music. Her mother Katrina is a wonderful singer, and her dad Phil turned his entire basement into a music space for jamming with friends. Ayla has been surrounded by music from day one, and music has been shaping her for all her of her 15 years, even when she didn't realize it.

This year, Ayla was the U-Prep student who called me and asked if she could intern at the radio station over the summer, and she turned out to be the quickest learner I have ever had the pleasure of introducing to the JPR on-air console. She ran the board, quickly mastered our on-line playlist software (which ain't easy, let me tell ya), and pretty soon she was picking out the music for my show. 

Since Ayla was learning how to be Val over the summer, I figured she should have the chance to experience every facet of Val...so as her last assignment before going back to school next week, I gave Ayla the challenge of a guest starring role as the Mini-Mistress of the Mix. Please welcome her, and be amazed at some of the music she chose for her playlist that accompanies the column. Her influences range from Nina Simone to Beck, and it's all awesome. When I can introduce someone to new music, and then they turn around and introduce me to my new favorite songs of the week…..well, that's saying something. I hope you'll push the play arrow and give it a listen.  Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for Ayla Clark:

15 year old Sophomore (and neighbor) Ayla Clark

Music has always been a big part of my life. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve noticed how much music affects my life and the lives of those around me. If I have a great day, music is always there to make it even better, and if I have a bad day, there’s music to pick up all the pieces. One thing I know is that a life without music is not a life at all, it’s being alive without living. Which is a total crime if you ask me.

This past summer I interned at Jefferson Public Radio Station, with the voice of the fabulous Valerie Ing at the helm. I’ve known Val since I can remember, so actually I should probably say that she has known me since I was born! As you may already know, Valerie is the afternoon host on JPR’s classical music radio station. At first I wished I could intern at a radio station where I would actually know the music and maybe even the artists that we were playing, but nevertheless I accepted it as a learning experience and not a musical experience.

I know people usually have a hard time saying this but...oh my gosh I was so WRONG!

Classical music has been in my life since I was about 12 years old when I started playing the cello, a beautiful instrument. All we’d ever play in school was classical music, so I had a bit of an idea of how to pronounce some of the exceptionally difficult foreign composers’ names and the premise of classical music. The thought that interning at JPR’s classical music station wouldn’t give me a musical experience was immensely incorrect. I learned that classical music is the foundation of every genre of music in the entire world. Classical music practically started music as a whole, it gave rhythm and order to a bland world. Even today you can listen to any song, even that weird Skrillex mess, and you will hear some type of input from the classical era where full music began to form. My point is that even classical music makes the worst days better, and the best days seem more exciting, because every genre of music is a musical experience.
Ayla & Friends, listening to music together.

After my Summer interning at JPR, I’m so excited to broaden my horizons when it comes to music.  Now I realize way more about myself, about the history of music, and about the love people have for music. It was tremendously humbling when I heard fans call in, sometimes so eager to learn where a certain song came from or who it was by. It showed me how much people love classical music, even though I wasn’t such a fan.

Music is everywhere; in the streets, in the forest, in the rain, and especially in movies and media. I’m in high school, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my future and what I want to do with my life.  From my JPR experience, which I am so grateful for, I’m pretty fortified in my desire to be in the music industry as a producer or supervisor. I want to put a smile on everyone’s face when there needs to be laughter or bring a tear rolling down the cheek of everyone in times of sadness. I'm excited to see where life leads me, and I’m ready to flow with every musical experience to see where it might take me.


When Valerie gave me the opportunity to put together a Mistress of the Mix playlist, I decided to show all the different genres of music I've been exposed to throughout my life and how they have shaped me as a person. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe you'll be surprised at some of the music that I consider instrumental in shaping me as a musical person. Feel free to share the music that shaped you, and enjoy.

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