The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be sharing the stories of people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives.
Today, we feature Akeem Harris. Akeem is a Liability Determination Adjuster with Allstate.
What instrument do you play?
Saxophone, Violin, Viola, Oboe, Piano, Flute
At what age did you begin to play your first instrument?
Why did you start playing?
My parents introduced me into the world of music at a very young age, 5, with the violin and it just grew from there.
What was your experience with music during your elementary, middle and high school years?
During Elementary School, I was playing the violin and piano and taking lessons at Peabody Preparatory. Middle School was the same thing. In High School, I ended up picking up the oboe, playing in Woodlawn High School Jazz Band, Marching Band and Symphonic Band and also with the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra. I also had the opportunity to travel to the Ivory Coast in West Africa with the Woodlawn/Milford Mill Academy High School Jazz Bands.
Who was your favorite music teacher? What made them your favorite?
Ms. Stephanie K Sanders. She had awesome ways of motivating me and pushing me past my limits as a saxophone player. She cared about you as a person along with your musical abilities.
What is your favorite band memory from grade school?
My favorite memory from grade school was being able to get 5 notes out of my saxophone, lol.
Did you play an instrument in college? Did music impact your college choice?
I played, Saxophone, Violin, and Oboe at Hampton and Norfolk State University. It impacted both schools I attended. The late, great Barney E. Smart gave me a scholarship for the oboe at Hampton and I had exposure to Norfolk's music program and I saw good things there as well.
What is your current occupation?
Liability Determination Adjuster with Allstate.
How has music helped you in your current occupation?
It's a great conversation piece.
How has music played a part in your adult life?
In my adult life, it has been huge. It has allowed me to play with the UP Praise Team at Providence Baptist Church, various choirs at church, Baltimore's Marching Ravens, The Fort Washington Symphonic Winds, Hunt Valley Symphony Orchestra and other gigs. It keeps me grounded and focused and is a release from stress and tension.
What advice do you have for young musicians?
Don't let anyone destroy your dreams or put you in a musical box. I had teachers and others say, "You play too many instruments" or, "You can't be in all these different ensembles". As long as you have drive and dedication you can achieve it all.
Akeem is also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (Pi Beta) Hampton U and
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity INC (DZ) ( Nu Sigma Sigma).