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The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

Sofia Crafts takes on role as student conductor, sets big goals for future

Sofia Crafts practicing a trumpet part during Jazz Band. Crafts has been a student conductor since the beginning of this school year.
Junior Hoang
Sofia Crafts practicing a trumpet part during Jazz Band. Crafts has been a student conductor since the beginning of this school year.

Before high school, sophomore Sofia Crafts had never considered pursuing a career as a band director. However, after performing in the spring concert her freshman year, band teacher Jeremy Dell approached Crafts about taking up the role of student conductor as a sophomore. Since then, Crafts has learned the ropes of conducting and has hopes of becoming a band director in the future.

“I went into high school not knowing how to conduct at all,” Crafts said. “I never really thought about it. But, I’ve really learned how to conduct.”

Crafts has always had a knack for music. As early as preschool, a teacher noted her talented ear and emphasized her ability at a conference to her parents.

“She always liked playing with little instruments around the house, but it wasn’t until she started preschool when she was four and her preschool teacher was also a trained musician,” Sofia’s mother Cassandra Mastne said. “And I remember going to the little conference they had, and I thought we would be talking about reading skills and, you know, literacy and whatnot, which we did, but it really stood out to me that she made it a point to tell me that Sofia was very unique in her ability to recognize notes in music. Like she had an ear on her that was unlike any other kid that she worked with…she had me promise that we would somehow bring music into Sofia’s life as she got older.”

Keeping to that promise, Crafts’ parents started her in music lessons at a young age. Crafts was initially interested in taking drum lessons as early as five but ultimately settled on piano as her first instrument instead, a compromise that she feels paid off in the form of the instrument’s crossover skills.

Eventually, Crafts would join Beginning Band at Vernon K-8 when she was in sixth grade. It was here that she picked up her first band instrument, the trumpet, in part for its portability.

“She chose trumpet,” Mastne said, “I mean, I think she liked the trumpet, but she was also interested in trying the saxophone and a few other instruments, but the trumpet she thought would be more feasible to transport on her bike–she was biking to school.”

While middle school band was her first introduction to the world of performing arts, a negative experience in her eighth grade year almost stopped her from continuing into high school. With some encouragement from her parents, however, she would ultimately decide to take Symphonic Band her freshman year.

“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I would probably be making a big mistake if I didn’t join high school band, so I decided to give it a shot,” Crafts said.

After her freshman year, Crafts would take Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band. In her band classes, which have grown since her freshman year, Crafts noted the value of the tight community bond.

“We all want the same thing,” she said, “we are all kind of in it together, and just kind of bonding with people over that is really special. It’s really special.”

This sense of community aligns with what attracts her to the role of band director—helping peers get their parts down and prepare for performances.

Band director Jeremy Dell noticed Craft’s leadership skills in addition to her kindness during her freshman year.

“When I met Sofia, I just knew that she had a lot of energy, and she was gonna be a great leader,” Dell said. “[She] just had those leadership qualities on day one. And I was very lucky to have the students that I had in [Symphonic Band] because, you know, with eight students, it can be unpredictable. But when everybody cares, that’s all you need, just students who care. And I know that Sofia just immediately put her heart and soul into the department.”

Dell felt that Craft was a natural choice for a student conductor, a position which comes with several responsibilities, like conducting the pep band and, more recently, concerts, filling in when Dell is absent and generally bringing energy and cohesion to the groups. Being asked to be student conductor was a pivotal moment for Crafts’ band career.

“When I got asked to be student conductor, that was kind of a breakthrough for me,” she said.

Dell observed the speed with which Crafts learned the techniques necessary to conduct the band, namely the four-pattern, an essential skill that often takes students some time to master for its unique hand movements.

Working outside of the classroom, Crafts helped organize a band that performed during the PAT strike in November. She sent out communications to other band students to organize and even arranged a piece called “Danger Zone” for the group to perform. This arrangement is now played by the pep band at sports events.

Although Crafts is currently a sophomore, Dell has seen her develop as a band director at an exceptional rate.

“And for Sofia, I already know Sofia’s gonna be an amazing band director,” he said. “She already is, she’s already doing all the right things. She’s gonna find that when she goes to college, she is just way ahead of everybody else, as far as the conducting aspect goes.”

While she still has two years left in high school, Crafts is forming some future plans, though they may shift with time.

“I think after high school, I’ll major in music,” she said. “I’m not totally sure where yet–or which area of music…I’ll probably do something with percussion, percussion’s really interesting for me right now. And then I’ll probably get my master’s degree in Music Ed., and then go from there.”

A few music programs stand out to Crafts already, including those of Washington State University and Syracuse University.

While Crafts has spent the last year practicing her own instruments as well as picking up her role as a student conductor, she remains focused on the present. Now that the pep band season has ended, she looks forward to conducting a song at the spring concert on May 16, another opportunity for her to develop her leadership skills.

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About the Contributors
Lincoln Wheeler, Editor-In-Chief
Lincoln Wheeler (he/him) is a senior who loves playing hockey and guitar. He enjoys being a journalist because he wants to bring new perspectives and ideas to people.
Junior Hoang, Reporter
Junior Hoang (he/him) is a junior. He can do a handstand and has a dog. He joined the Oracle because Lane Shaffer wanted him to carry on his legacy.

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