When Sophie Tait arrived at the University of Redlands, she brought with her years of experience playing the piano.
Tait, a Moreno Valley, Calif. native, began taking lessons when she was eight years old.
“I started mostly because of my mom’s encouragement,” she said. “She always wanted to take lessons herself and wasn’t able to, and I picked it up right away. It was when I did my first piano recital in middle school that I really started to enjoy it, connecting with the audience and telling a story through playing. It’s such an amazing experience to be on the stage. With other instruments you’re in an ensemble or band, but the piano is by yourself. It’s a really intimate and personal experience.”
As a junior in high school, Tait made the decision to study music in college, and narrowed it down to a few schools.
“As soon as I came to Redlands for my audition, I felt like I was at home,” she said. “It was a very welcoming place, I liked the environment, and I met Prof. Louanne Long. It was a pretty easy decision, and one I definitely felt was for the best.”
While at Redlands, Tait participated in other musical organizations, including the Sweet Charity a cappella group, which she now directs, and the music fraternity.
“I joined both my freshman year,” she said. “They gave me a great way to make friends and connections within the School of Music.”
During the spring semester of her junior year, Tait studied in Salzburg, and took piano lessons there with an Austrian teacher.
“That broadened my musical experience,” she said. “I learned different perspective and techniques.”
Tait has taught piano herself in the Community School of Music, and right now has students ranging in age from five to 12.
“It keeps me very busy,” she said.
Tait had “an epiphany” at the end of November, and realized that she wanted to continue studying piano and earn a master’s degree in performance.
“I was kind of confused before then,” she said. “By that point, it was too late to look into grad schools elsewhere – application deadlines were within a week and there were auditions to prepare for – so I talked to my professors and will continue studying here. The master’s program is short, so I don’t see a reason to take off and go someplace else right away, plus it’s a great education. I love teaching and performing, and it’s the best way to put both those to good use.”
Tait is excited about taking the next step in her educational journey at Redlands.
“I think the School of Music just gives such a well-rounded experience,” she said. “At a conservatory the main focus is on performing and it’s very competitive, too. The School of Music does a great job of fostering a community. I’ve felt like that since I was a freshman, and it’s been strengthened. I’ve had opportunities to conduct and compose, which are things I wouldn’t have even thought to do before coming here.”
Written by: Catherine Garcia