Leah Jones always had a love for music. By the age of just 2 she had every song from “The Sound of Music” memorized thanks to her grandmother, Rose Smith. She also got her love of music naturally from her grandfather, Douglas Smith. He directed the orchestra and taught music at Southern Baptist Seminary for 35 years.
By the age of 7, she started learning to play the piano. Jones’ primary instrument is not the piano, but rather her voice.
She saw a career in music her junior year at Ballard High School in Louisville, Kentucky, when her high school choir received a standing ovation at the Carmina Burana, which is a large performance with the Louisville Orchestra and select choirs all over the state.
“I was just holding my music thinking, ‘This is what I want to do forever,’” Jones said.
Her high school choir was given the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall twice over her high school year. Once was with a large choir and the second time, Jones’ senior year, they were asked to perform by themselves.
Jones is currently a junior at Samford University. She is studying music education with a concentration in vocal choral.
“I want to be a choir director someday,” Jones said. “I want to start as a high school director but eventually get my doctorate and conduct a university choir one day.”
The journey to get her degree is not a simple one, however.
“Being a music major is not easy,” Jones said.
On average, Jones practices about 30 minutes a day on top of the seven classes she is currently taking. Music majors on average take all 18 credit hours a semester so they are able to graduate in four years. Many of the classes that music majors take are zero or just one credit. These are performance classes where all music majors come together and practice performances.
Jones also said she must take Jan term and summer term classes to ensure she graduates on time since she is taking music and education classes.
On top of all of her classes, Jones has also been involved in the Samford A Cappella Choir since her freshman year.
The community is also a large aspect of why Jones loves being involved with music.
“We’re all encouraging to each other and you never feel alone because you have this group that you know cares for you,” Jones said about her experience with being in a choir.
Her peers agree with her,too.
“I believe the primary reason for its success is the family dynamic of the group,” Christopher Williams, a junior music major said.
Unfortunately not all children are able to have this experience with music like Jones and many of her other peers have. In fact, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in 2011, more than 2 million children were not exposed to any type of music program in school.
Jones explained from her own experience why she believes there is a benefit to having a music background, even if it just a small one.
“What many people don’t realize is that music covers all subjects and it makes me sad when people say music isn’t essential to human development because it is,” Jones said.
She went on to describe how she knows more about the human body because she has to know to take care of her voice and body- it’s her instrument.
History is also surrounded by music. Music majors have to learn about the different musical eras and the history surrounding them to gain a better understanding of what they’re performing.
Math is heavily involved in music because musicians are constantly having to count beats and divide beats while also performing.
“I think the benefits of music is that you are very well rounded when having that music background,” Jones said.
Jones said anyone can learn music and the piano is great way to start.
Kimberly Davis, Contributing Writer