Student of the Month: Sophia Zheng

Student of the Month: Sophia Zheng

Students may know Sophia as the spelling-binding performer at the recent YoungArts’ Competition. This Competition honors outstanding student musicians from across the nation. Recently Mrs. Leonard memorialized Sophia’s accomplishment with a “Crushed It Cup” during Assembly.  We met with Sophia to get to know the person behind the music. Sophia talked with us about her recent YoungArts Award and the journey she took to arrive there. 

Every year, thousands of students between the ages of 15 and 18 apply for the YoungArts program. If chosen,  they attend the National YoungArts Week to work with fellow students and enhance their skills under the guidance of world-renowned experts. Those who excel in their senior year can also be nominated for U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, which is considered one of the most prestigious national awards for high school students.

A visit to an instrument store with her mother sparked four-year-old Sophia’s love for classical music and the piano. At the store, Sophia’s mother asked her which instrument she wanted to play. Fascinated by the piano in the center of the store, Sophia chose it to be her instrument and has been playing the piano for thirteen years now.
      Sophia practices piano around five hours per day during the week and seven hours per day during the weekend; she typically practices the piano after school until 11:00 pm and does homework until around 1:00 am. Despite her busy schedule, Sophia has maintained exemplary grades and will be attending Northwestern University in the fall, where she plans to study music and economics.

Sophia says that piano has become an integral part of her life, commenting that “if I don’t practice for one day, I feel like I am missing something,” Although Sophia doesn’t have a musical role model per se, her favorite composer is Robert Schumann.

A challenge which Sophia believes gave her the drive to become the pianist she is today, occurred when she was a child. A male piano teacher told her that “her hands were too small” and thus she would not be able to play as well as a man. Undaunted, Sophia went on to become an accomplished pianist and the only girl among the seven finalists in YoungArts. Sophia celebrated her YoungArts award with her family and friends, many of whom are also musicians. Despite feeling nervous before performing on stage, Sophia’s confidence shines through in her playing. Once she begins, her anxiety dissipates as she becomes immersed in the music.

Although Sophia has shared that her life is basically “piano and study,” she does have some unique hobbies. During her free time, Sophia likes to watch movies, swim, and learn about finance. Sophia is also involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, such as the Taste of China and DECA Clubs. 

Sophia enjoys playing piano solos, yet notes that performing can be challenging because every piano is different. While she has performed numerous times, she especially enjoyed her experience with the YoungArts Competition because she got to play the piano with some of the best musicians in the country. She was very successful at YoungArts and even received a call from the Manager of Operations and Archival Media for Youngarts saying he was impressed with her skill and surprised she wasn’t on social media. 

For aspiring musicians, Sophia advises, “First you need to love music, and if you love music you can keep practicing. And then it’s just practicing. Practicing is the key part of being able to play.” Sophia was also grateful for the people at Agnes Irwin who supported her along her journey, saying, “Thank you for all the classical music support in this school!”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All AIS Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *