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Fitch High School senior plans to share passion for music to help children

Groton — Robert E. Fitch High School Senior Mayson Murphy says playing music feels limitless.

There are seemingly endless options of instruments and styles, from classical to jazz, and when she plays, she feels like she’s in her own world where she can do pretty much anything. She's also developed close friendships through a connection with music.

The talented musician now wants to share her passion for music with children and become a band teacher in the future.

Murphy was adopted from China at age 2½. She came to the United States without knowing any English or Chinese, so she found it difficult to adjust to the American culture and blend in with everyone else. But through the extensive work and dedication she put in from the start, she was able to not only catch up with everyone else but excel in her academic career and discover a love of music.

Murphy’s music career started when she was younger and noticed in music classes that there wasn’t any writing or reading involved, which she said made it easier to learn, since she was having trouble with language. 

While attending the former Cutler Middle School, she learned to enjoy music more, and her band director Kevin Mazzarella helped her realize her potential. She said he gave her the confidence to audition and learn harder pieces. He nominated her, and she was accepted, to perform at Carnegie Hall, which she said was a life-changing experience.

“I feel like if he wasn’t my teacher back then, I wouldn’t be as invested in music because I didn’t know my potential and I didn’t know that I had a true passion for music until he made me realize that,” she said.

Mazzarella noted Murphy’s excellent scholarship, character, dedication and musicianship, and he said he has witnessed her grow as a leader and musician. He said she is conscientious, reflective and humble, and proactively gives and seeks advice when needed, especially regarding flute performance and leadership skills.

“Mayson has been a pleasure to know and work with,” he said.  “She is always punctual, prepared, and cooperative. Using the skills she has honed in music, she is equally comfortable in her membership in the National Honors Society and (Tri-M Music Honor Society) as she is facile in performing on her instrument. She has taken private flute lessons for many years, culminating in her selection to the CT Music Educators Association (CMEA) All-State Concert Band.”

He also noted that she gives back to her community through volunteerism, and prior to the pandemic, assisted in teaching small group lessons in elementary and middle school music programs.

“I admire her persistence, balance, and hard work with her academic scholarship in rigorous coursework and other activities,” Mazzarella said. “Mayson has dedicated herself to what she puts her mind to, which is indicative of self-discipline and achievement.”  

Over her high school career, Murphy, 18, participated in a host of music activities, including the Fitch Falcon Marching Band and the jazz ensemble.

After graduation, she will attend Central Connecticut State University to major in music education and plans to become a band teacher. She hopes to travel during her summers off and would like to visit China.

As a teacher, she hopes to encourage students to dive into music, because she herself didn't know how much she loved it until she was encouraged to get involved. She is interested in working with middle school kids because she herself remembers how awkward and anxious she felt in middle school and not knowing how to combat those feelings, and she wants the students to be more comfortable and at ease. 

She said her own anxiousness around people in elementary and middle school prevented her from reaching out and doing the things she really wanted to do. She said it was a gradual process, but she is proud that she was able to overcome that in high school with help from her teacher Jordan Panucci. She said she worked and focused on her goal, and everything seems better now when she’s in social situations. 

Murphy said she hopes people know that if they need someone for support or anything, to reach out. “Whether it be a staff member from a school or a family member or a friend, there’s always going to be someone out there that will help you or give you some guidance,” she said.

She’s also learned during the coronavirus pandemic how important it is to cherish the present moments in life — even if the moments seem insignificant — because it’ll mean a much more positive outlook on life.

Understanding, patient and empathetic, Murphy said she always is able to put herself in other people’s shoes. As a camp counselor for the Town of Groton, she’s met so many kids with different stories and wants to help them. 

She said she’s made friends and no longer has the feeling of not “blending in” that she had at times when she was younger. She said there is diversity in the Groton and Mystic area and she has come to meet a broad range of people that she shares interests with. She said she’s learned that in the end, humans have a lot more in common than they have differences.

She said finding what she has in common with people — such as music — is a way to become close and share a connection. “It’s a very special feeling and it’s a really great way that we can connect as friends.”

She said for the longest time, she did not think she could overcome the language barrier. She thought she was going to be behind in reading and writing for all of high school and there was nothing to do but go with the system and hope everything turns out fine. But she said she continued to push herself and spend extra time — and she found success.

Murphy said she hopes people take from her story to not give up, despite any challenges they face. 

“It was not easy, and it definitely took a lot of intrinsic motivation to get where I am now, so just know that even if it seems impossible, you can really do anything if you set your mind to it,” she said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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