'Music runs in my veins' Science Hill virtuoso looks to future as musical therapist

Brandon Paykamian • Feb 18, 2020 at 8:10 PM

Science Hill senior Madison Howard is already a master clarinetist who can play several other instruments.

Though she’s a talented performer, she is planning on using her skills after graduation for one of her biggest goals — becoming a musical therapist. 

Over the last few weeks, the 17-year-old multi-instrumentalist has competed in several national band auditions. In these auditions, Howard performed for a panel of judges and competed against as many as 70 other clarinetists to earn top spots. 

On Tuesday, the Press spoke with her to learn a bit more about her, starting with some fast facts. 

Fast Facts: 

Hobbies/interests: “I like to read, listen to music and play board games. I also collect snow globes.”

Favorite musicians: The Beatles, John Mackey, Panic at the Disco, John Philip Sousa and Billy Joel.

My favorite movie of 2019: “Avengers: Endgame”

Favorite food: Spaghetti

Cats or dogs: Cats 

How did you get into music? 

I have been involved in music my whole life. My dad is a middle school band director, so you could say music runs in my veins. I play the clarinet, alto saxophone, guitar, ukulele and a little piano. What I like most about music is its accessibility. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like any music. I think its ability to touch and move people is beautiful.

Can you tell us about the competitions you’ve participated in? 

Over the past few weeks, I have auditioned for multiple honor band clinics and music programs at universities. First, I auditioned for the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association’s regional honor band, where I placed high enough to make the top ensemble and All-State honor band. The following weekend, I auditioned at the University of Louisville for their honor band and School of Music. I made the top ensemble and successfully gained entrance into the School of Music. 

The next weekend I auditioned for the University of Alabama’s honor band clinic and School of Music. I was able to make the top ensemble and gain entrance to the School of Music in Alabama as well, and I was awarded a $2,000 scholarship for participating in the event.

What do you plan on doing after high school?

After high school, I plan to be a music therapist. Music therapists help people of all ages who may be struggling with psychological or behavioral issues, as well as those with various developmental disabilities, physical limitations or serious illness. Their goal is to have a positive impact on the patient’s overall well-being as they go through personal changes.

I wish to become a music therapist because that field perfectly combines my passion for music with my love for helping others. The institutions that I am looking into attending are the University of Alabama, the University of Louisville and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. All three of these schools have wonderful music therapy programs.

What do you think are the biggest challenges students your age face today?

The biggest challenge students my age face today is peer pressure. Whether it’s pressure to do whatever it takes to get good grades or to vape, students are constantly being pushed into wrong choices. Students can avoid these pressures by choosing to hold firmly to their beliefs. It is important to know that you don’t have to do what it deemed cool or popular to be happy.

Who is your biggest inspiration in life? 

My biggest inspiration in life is my small group leader, Grace Ann Hance. She is endlessly selfless, caring and supportive. Her kindness inspires me to be the best person I can be.