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Music is a passion for Grasso Tech senior

Groton — It was one of the proudest moments of his high school career when last month on a field trip to Six Flags amusement park in Agawam, Mass., Timothy Pinckney won the award for the most outstanding student accompanist for a school choir.

He played Rollo Dilworth's "The Dream Keeper" on piano, and was confident when he finished the performance.

"I'd been practicing, and I knew I had it down," he said, acknowledging he thought he had a good shot at the prize even before it was announced.

For the 18-year-old Pinckney, who hails from Ledyard and will graduate from Ella T. Grasso Technical High School next week, music is a passion.

He's studied computer-aided drafting and design and performs with both the band and choir at Grasso Tech.

And Pinckney, who is mostly a self-taught musician, plays 11 instruments — the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, percussion, piano, flute, tenor saxophone, banjo, ukulele, harmonica, and violin — and plans to master a 12th as soon as he gets an old clarinet he's acquired cleaned up.

"I think of both of them (music and CADD) mathematically," he said, saying he ended up in CADD because it was the shop he enjoyed most when he was exposed to the various disciplines at Grasso Tech when he first arrived.

Next fall, he will enter Johnson State College in Vermont, where he plans to study music and is leaning toward a career in music education.

"I feel like in music education, I could affect a lot of people's lives for the better," he said. 

But he added, "I'm also not opposed to scoring music for a movie or a game, because I feel like that would make a lot of people hear the work I've done, which I would like."

Today, with a grade point average of about 96 on a scale of 100, Pinckney explained that Grasso Tech was a very good fit for him, especially since he struggled in middle school.

His grades were not that good then, he said, in part because the pace of class work was too slow for him.

"It was just hard for me to work in a normal public school setting because I would have to spread things out more than I'd like to," he said. "But here, I can do things more quickly. I can work at my own pace."

And, he says, he's blossomed socially.

"I was very awkward freshman year; uh, it was bad," he said. "But I'm a lot more social now, and I definitely have a lot more friends, and I feel comfortable with people I don't know. And I'm proud of that."

Music teacher Melanie Cometa opened many doors for him, Pinckney said.

"She just gave me so many wonderful opportunities here that I don't think I would have gotten elsewhere," he said. "In sophomore year, I was given the opportunity to commission a piece for our music program to do at our pops concert."

"Timothy's musicianship is outstanding," said Cometa, "but I don't think that's what makes him so successful. He's successful because he's kind and dependable and focused."

She said he would sign up for any music class available at Grasso and put in the work that's necessary to succeed.

"He was probably just 15 when he composed that piece (sophomore year) and it was exceptional," she said, adding Pinckney is a section leader in both band and chorus, and performs in the school's jazz band and with the chamber singers.

"If we let him, he would be in the music room all day," she said. 

Writing music is difficult, but Cometa said Pinckney is willing to learn the rules to be successful and is able to stay focused.

"He will really be missed," she said.

Pinckney is ready to head off to college and focus on his future career.

"I'm ready for the next chapter of my life," he said. "It's definitely been fun here but I'm ready to move on."  


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