Crafting personal spirit in new melodies

Students hone musical talents in quarantine

Junior Dara Torres performs her rendition of “Best Part” by singer-songwriter H.E.R. Torres publicizes her work on music-sharing platform Soundcloud.

Efren Mendieta, Videographer

For centuries, music has given creative individuals an opportunity to vividly express the emotions, beliefs and ideas that act as the irreplaceable ingredients to their distinctive character. This outlet has appeared to grasp the attention of students at Bonita Vista High (BVH) who have taken advantage of their free time during self quarantine to further develop their musical aspirations. 

“Personally, my music means everything to me. It’s my emotions, it’s my way to express my feelings. My music shows who I am,” junior Dara Torres said.

Torres and junior Madison Bianes alongside senior Brandon Casiple are just a few examples of students at BVH who are currently honing their musical talent. Casiple has been a musician since the 4th grade when he started off playing the drums. Torres and Bianes have both pursued music their entire lives music with Bianes singing in several choirs including BVH’s Vocal Music Department (VMD) as well as having taken piano lessons for several years. 

“I’m so passionate for the [musical] arts. I believe it’s something that allows me to express myself like nothing else can and that’s why I write and sing music that has a lot of emotion in it that I can relate to. I also sing about things that I’m passionate about such as the environment,” Bianes said.

In regards to the genre of their music, Bianes declares that she generally sings pop and soul, while Torres categorizes his music into Indie and R&B. Casiple also feels as if he most often explores R&B as he believes it resonates with him due to its soulful and heartfelt elements. 

“My technical proficiency in music has always been a way for me to keep my self-esteem up in times where I felt as if I could find validation in no place else,” Casiple said.

Although the three share a similar aspiration for music, each of them were inspired in different ways. Torres states she was inspired by her dad’s side of the family and picked up her talents from them as they were all “musical prodigies”. Casiple declares that his inspiration was due to his decision after freshman year to step away from organized music such as band and drumline.

“At that point, I felt as if I’ve done enough with groups and I wanted time to enjoy other parts of my life and I wanted to be able to explore music at my own pace,” Casiple said.

According to Bianes, she has been writing songs ever since she was young and published one of her first songs while in elementary school along with several covers since then. Despite Torres’ interest in music at an early age, she claims that she started releasing her own songs a year ago, beginning with shorter original songs, but this year she’s focusing on full original songs. Currently, Casiple has only been publishing song covers on social media which began around the summer of 2019 after being encouraged by his peers.

Bianes states that it was difficult publishing songs before quarantine, but she always loved starting new projects. Torres faced similar issues as she declared her responsibilities as a student and athlete left her with little time as she’d get home late from practice and spend all night doing homework. For Casiple, it has not been difficult to release music, though he still ensured that his academic responsibilities left him with less time to sit at his keyboard or drum set to learn new songs.

“I do think some of my more personal songs that I haven’t published yet have had influence from being self isolated because during this time I’ve been more reflective about everything and [it is showing] through my music,” Bianes said.

With significant stress taken off these students, they’ve used this period to raise their music productivity. According to Casiple, the ability to tend to his academic responsibilities at his own pace has brought him more time to learn new songs and become more familiar with chords and scales across his keyboard. 

“I’ve never come to writing any of my own songs, but I feel as if being detached from the physical company of people in general has led me to feel less emotionally attached to people. I think this detachment is reflected in my performance of music; it feels a lot less emotional to me,” Casiple said.

With more free time, Torres has been able to improve her voice control and perfect her songwriting. Bianes has taken the time to practice her singing but has also been challenging herself by exploring new instruments so that she can produce new music.

The three have all been releasing music at their own individual pace during quarantine. Torres has only released one original song but has 5 other completed songs that are yet to be released. Bianes has been working on various covers and originals but she states the most notable example is her “Message to Mother Earth” song which she pushed to have finished by Earth Day on April 22 due to her passion for the environment. 

“It is the only cover that I left permanently on my Instagram feed and it received a lot of good feedback with a lot of people sharing the post. I believe the message was so important and people could relate to it,” Bianes said.

According to Bianes, she wants to take this time to work more in depth in an effort to “fully put herself out” there as an artist, while Casiple holds a goal of simply finding pleasure in creating music. By the time school resumes, Torres hopes her music can grow more popular with her first original song “The boy across the room” already garnering over 2,000 streams on Soundcloud. Casiple ultimately believes that the musicians from Bonita will continue to strive to make music despite the limitations quarantine has brought upon the community.

“It’s become pretty much impossible for people to collaborate and make music together the same way we used to. I think that the collaboration between small musicians like myself and my friends is what keeps things very lively and fun.  However, I don’t think this roadblock is going to stop anyone from continuing to explore music at Bonita. I know a lot of them will always have that personal buy-in for their music and I think the music community will always remain healthy through these testing times,” Casiple said.