Otis and Joran - "The things you learn here will stick with you forever"

19 January 2023

Otis and Joran are 13 and 15 years old and attend the School for Young Talent (SvJT). Otis plays classical trumpet with jazz as a minor, while Joran studies classical percussion. We talk to them about how they ended up at SvJT, what friends and parents often ask them, and how they collaborate with other musicians.

"I've been playing the trumpet since I was seven years old and knew quite early on that I wanted to pursue it," Otis said about how he ended up at SvJT. "When I came across this school, I saw it as a real opportunity to continue with music." Joris added, "My teacher also attended this school, and I want to continue drumming, which can be done here, so it was perfect."

Otis started at the school with a focus on classical trumpet, but also learned jazz trumpet there. "That's why I've also started studying jazz," he said. Joran felt good after touring the school: "I visisted and toured the school for a day, which gave me a good impression of what it's like."

Many people have asked the young musicians if they're taught regular school subjects in addition to their music lessons. Joris laughed, "They often ask if we also do normal schoolwork. Of course, we do. But we have normal lessons until two o'clock, and music lessons after that." Otis added, "Friends ask why I can't meet regularly on weekends. And parents ask if it's not too busy for someone my age."

An average school day: less homework and more focus
"From nine to quarter past two, you have normal classes in the subjects that everyone else gets in secondary school," Otis explains. "And then on Thursday afternoons, we have a 'workshop' with chamber music. On other afternoons, I have an ensemble, solo lesson, or rehearsal. We finish at around 5 or 5:30 pm." Joran says: "I'm in a class with seven students. I am the only music student. The others do visual arts or dance." Compared to other secondary schools, where there are sometimes as many as 30 students in a class, this is quite a difference. Joran remarked: "It's enjoyable though because you know everyone at school, and you have a good relationship with teachers. They also come to watch your concerts, for example."

Students at SvJT have less homework because a lot is already happening in lessons. "We get the same lessons as other students, but because there are fewer students, we get more attention from the teacher," Otis said. Moreover, SvJT students tend to be more focused as they have other commitments besides their studies.

Joran adds: "I've already done a competition in Switzerland twice with the percussion section, which was great fun. It was also nice to have a goal to study towards. I feel a lot of motivation to improve and to go for something. I enjoy doing competitions anyway."

Mental support and advice from the experts.
Joran and Otis regularly visit the Residentie Orkest. Joran said: "My teacher plays in that, so it's fun to see." Otis added: "Same for me. My trumpet teacher plays a concert almost every week."

Students benefit from their teachers' active musical careers, as Joran explains, "Especially if you want to go into an orchestra later, the advice you get from your teachers here is so important, and it's very nice to get that at a young age." Otis added, "I often ask my trumpet teacher questions about what it's like to be a professional musician. After all, he knows exactly what he's talking about because he has concerts almost every week."

The school also offers mental support to its students. Joran said: "We also have classes on mental training. They talk about how to deal with anxiety and tension in music. There are two psychologists who are also with the Residentie Orkest. Self-image is also discussed there. They show us how to look at ourselves, get better, and study more efficiently." Otis added, "My teacher taught me to overcome my nerves before concerts. He says that when you play, it's started, and there's nothing you can do about it, so you just have to keep playing."

Future Plans
Otis said: "I don't know what I want to do later. Right now, I'm concentrating mainly on this school and music. But I also want to keep the option open to study something else later." Joran already knows what he wants to do later; "I think I will study at the Conservatoire. So, I will be auditioning after this. I'm also thinking about doing a second study alongside it, but I still have to see if that will work out."

"The things you learn here will stick with you forever."
Joran shared what he would like to tell future students about what it's like at school: "I think it's mostly incredibly sociable, which I didn't expet beforehand. I thought it would have stricter rules and that you wouldn't have time for other things besides music. Sometimes it seems busy, but it doesn't feel that way when you do what you love all day."

Otis added, "Same for me. It's fun making music with other students who also love music. Yes, it can be busy sometimes, but there's a reward for that; there is something in return. For example, we played in front of 500 people in church three times this week, and people left completely moved by the music. Here you are doing something you enjoy and get the most satisfaction out of. The things you learn here will stick with you forever."