Seven years ago, junior Phoebe Smith, then a fourth-grader, had a heart to play the blues. Under the instruction of Upper School piano teacher Carmen Doubrava, Phoebe stayed with the piano into her freshman year, when she chose to expand her range of musical talents to music composition.
It had been no secret that Smith had always had an affinity for music.
“Music has always been a part of our lives,” said her mother, English teacher Elizabeth Smith, who played piano throughout high school.
During her sophomore year, she took the intensive AP Music Theory course on the Online School for Girls (onlineschoolforgirls.org). She scored a 5, the maximum score, on the AP exam in May.
Doubrava, has taught AP Music Theory as a class in previous years.
“The course is extremely rigorous,” Doubrava said. “It equates to a year and a half of college level theory.” She said she was impressed that Phoebe, as a sophomore, had had the drive to take the class.
This year, as a semester-long project, Phoebe decided to undertake composition.
“I started composition as part of AP Music Theory and discovered I really liked it,” Phoebe said.
The AP course strictly outlines the guidelines for composition based on rules created during the 17th century. But, when she decided to start composing her own works, Phoebe chose an atonal style of music. “You don’t have to follow any guidelines, allowing you to be free in the music you’re writing,” she said.
Her first piece, written for piano and titled “Atonal Anarchy” on noteflight.com, was inspired by the work of Arnold Schoenberg. Phoebe is currently working on a second piano composition.
In regards to her future in music, Phoebe said, “Someday I would love to write movie scores, but no matter what career I end up choosing I will always make time for composition!”
– Kate Clement