Taking Center Stage
Graduating TTUISD senior, Atlee Daniel, will be attending the Oberlin Conservatory of music this fall.
by Lucy Worley
June 1, 2017
Atlee Daniel is graduating from high school this month, but the path she has taken to get to this milestone has been a unique one.
A violist since the age of 10, Atlee is not your typical extracurricular musician. From an early age, Atlee was encouraged to pursue classical music. It was obviously a good fit.
Atlee has served as the assistant principal viola in the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Arts Camp as well as being a part of the Honor Orchestra of America in 2016.
Atlee has managed to be involved in various orchestras and competitions by enrolling as an online student with Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD). Making this change for her final two years of high school, Atlee felt it was the best choice for the career she desires to pursue.
“I enrolled in TTUISD to have a more flexible schedule to practice viola so I could prepare for college auditions and could additionally participate in regional and national music festivals,” Atlee said. “With TTUISD, I could plan when to do my schoolwork in accordance with my practice times versus traditional school where I was on someone else’s schedule.”
The world of classical music is a competitive one. Students who are planning to perform professionally often have to make some big changes within their every day schedule.
“Typically I practice two and-a-half to three hours a day, but sometimes more when I have competitions or performances coming up,” Atlee said.
All of the practice has paid off. This fall, Atlee will be attending Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, the oldest operational conservatory in the United States. “I am really excited to be surrounded by top notch faculty in an environment with other students who have similar interests in performing.”
After her time at Oberlin, Atlee ultimately hopes to perform in a professional orchestra full-time – an area she has gained rich experience in already.
In addition to seasonal ensembles like the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Honor Orchestra of America, and the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, Atlee has played on a weekly basis with both the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra during her senior year, and with the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, where she played for seven years (and served as principal viola for two years in their elite ensemble). Other auditioned orchestras in which Atlee has won spots and performed over the years were the All-State Orchestras of both the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) and Texas Private School Music Educations Association (TPSMEA).
Atlee also won positions in solo and chamber festivals during the summer months that have included Credo-Oberlin, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the High Peaks Chamber Orchestra NY. To top off her pre-collegiate experience, Atlee will be attending Center Stage String at the University of Michigan and the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine this summer.
Considering all of the repertoire she has played through, we asked Atlee to name her favorite piece she has played so far.
“Recently I won a competition in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area and got to perform the Stamitz Viola Concerto with the Northeast Orchestra. It was great to have an entire orchestra collaborating with me as I performed this solo piece,” Atlee said.
While she may have been able to put a finger on her favorite composition, she is torn when thinking about composers.
“I couldn’t choose just one, but one of my favorites would have to be Dvorak or Prokofiev because of their unique composition styles and favorable writing for the viola section!”
There are certain ideas and techniques that Atlee embodies, which have contributed greatly to her professional success.
“Advice I try to remember is that music is more than notes on a page – it’s about connecting to the hearts of others,” Atlee says. Another tip she has picked up along the way? “Own the stage: your body language when performing should exhibit confidence and seek to draw others into the message you are trying to convey.”
It is precisely these elements of performance that set Atlee above the competition. More than anything, Atlee knows that achieving her dreams takes 110% effort. An intensity she brings to not just her music, but in everything she does.
“TTUISD helped me to become more disciplined with the time that I had,” Atlee said, expressing how much she enjoyed being able to work at her own pace.
The independent learning style of the TTUISD program is one more resource that empowers young professionals to create the discipline and time management needed in their competitive world.
Atlee finds herself right where she hoped she would be heading into college, with the help the freedom her online education brought her. She encourages others to consider the possibilities a program like TTUISD would bring.
“For young musicians, it is very beneficial in the long run to develop good habits and musical skills. Having freedom with your schedule allows you to focus on these areas where you might need more concentrated practice. Ultimately, because of TTUISD, I was able to compete and perform in events that I would not have been able to with a traditional school schedule.”