My name is Shania Raina and my number one passion is music. I’m fourteen years old and I am now in grade 9. Since I was young, I have found music as an escape. When I say this, I mean that when I play an instrument and/or sing, it feels as if all my worries and problems vanish, and there’s nothing else but the power of music and song. Playing instruments and singing brings me a great sense of happiness, relief, and excitement. 

At three years old, I lived in the suburban area of Richmond Hill, Ontario. After six years of living there, I moved to a beautiful little town called Brechin, Ontario, where I currently live. I attend a very small school of about sixty students where I was given the tools and opportunities to truly discover my immense passion for music. 

In senior kindergarten, I started to learn the piano and I would often enjoy singing or humming the tune of a song, but I think I really started to discover my passion and interest for music when I moved and started to learn guitar in grade 4. My music teacher, Mme Tammy, taught and encouraged me through my ongoing journey of learning guitar. After learning these two instruments, I decided to expand on my passion for music and started to learn ukulele, clarinet, and work on my vocals. 

Some of my hobbies outside of music include playing sports such as volleyball, basketball, and swimming. I also enjoy crafting, baking and spending time with my family and friends. 

Being awarded the NUFSICISUM Award was a big shock as I had no idea that I was even a nominee! I am thoroughly honoured that Youth4Music considered me among many other nominees. I am so thankful for having my incredible music teacher, Mrs. Tammy Wilson. She nominated me and gave me this opportunity, while also always being the best and most encouraging music teacher I could ask for. Also, I would like to thank my family, including my parents, who saw my potential before I did, and enrolled me in classes at a young age. As well as my older sister, who shares my love for music, and continually challenges me to be better. 

Some of my favourite songs that always put me in a good mood are “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles, “I Don’t Know” by Lisa Hannigan, and “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. If I had the opportunity to meet any three musicians I would choose Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, and Catie Turner (an American Idol winner and now professional singer). If I could choose to be any instrument, I think I would choose to be a guitar – a versatile expression of emotion. 

Leadership, in my eyes, means being able to influence others in an encouraging and knowledgeable way, while also acting as a guide. I like to do many things for my school, but to be honest, I don’t consider them to be leadership roles. I just enjoy doing the thing I’m passionate about, and sharing it. And if there is even the slightest possibility that my actions can encourage another individual, just like me, to continue to learn and develop their skills, I would feel very content with myself. Some of the things I have done that may be considered as leadership roles include teaching ukulele, guitar, some drum rhythms, creating harmonies for our choir to use, and sometimes leading the choir in guitar and singing when my music teacher isn’t present. 

My school is a small one, but we surely take pride in our music department. We have many instruments and everyone is given an equal chance to learn to play them. All budding singers are given the chance to sing in choir and maybe even take on a solo. I’ve gotten to watch as our school slowly becomes stronger and stronger in our musical talents and supplies. There are many clubs to take part in. I am a part of ukulele, guitar, singing, and drumming club. 

My favourite thing about music is that it can convey different emotions and evoke memories. I feel like many songs can be interpreted in different ways. This can create an incredible connection between people of different personalities, ethnic backgrounds, languages, preference in music, etc. For example, my sister enjoys Hip Hop and R&B, whereas I prefer the older rock music from the 60s – 80s. Some of my favourite songs that always put me in a good mood are “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles, “I Don’t Know” by Lisa Hannigan, and “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. Even though our preferences are completely different, we find a great amount of songs that both of us thoroughly enjoy and bond over. At my school, there is an even bigger divide of what genres of music each person likes, but I feel like our selection and range of music is so broad that there is a song for everyone. 

I believe that all schools should have some sort of music program. This is because music can bring people together and create memories. When you create moments through song, that memory can be sprung just by listening to, singing, or playing that song. I have had a number of memorable experiences through my involvement in the music department at my school. I think my most incredible and nerve racking experience I’ve had, would be performing a solo on guitar and singing to one of my favourite songs, “Yesterday” by The Beatles. 

In the future, there are a few goals I want to accomplish in music. I would like to expand my vocal range a bit more, challenge myself on guitar and piano, and participate in junior band in highschool. I also may want to learn a new instrument such as bass guitar. 

If there are any students like myself who want to get involved in music, my only advice I think I can give you, is to, well, just do it! Don’t worry about what other people think. If you feel like others think you’re playing an instrument wrong, or if you feel as if they’re judging the way your voice sounds, I want to tell you that it’s in your head. When I started to take an interest in singing, I was often concerned about how people would perceive me or if they thought I was bad. Once you let go of that fear, everything becomes easy as you can develop your skills more when you’re not afraid to practice in front of others. 

Winning this award, I have gratefully received a prize of $200. This money will go towards buying a new acoustic guitar for me to improve on my skills and to play with my school. I am endlessly appreciative and thankful for being considered for this award and for being given this incredible opportunity.