Senior Spotlight: Summer Burton, Tenor Saxophone
By Casey Ottaway, A&E Editor
What is your major?
“I am a music education major with a peace and justice studies minor.”
What is your instrument?
“My primary instrument is the tenor saxophone.”
When did you first fall in love with music? When did you realize you wanted to be a music educator?
“Growing up, music was always playing in my house. No matter what we were doing, my mom always had the radio or one of her many mix CDs playing. I think I have always loved music because of that.”
When did you realize you wanted to be a music educator?
“I realized I wanted to be a music educator in high school. While I had an inkling before then, when it came time to look at colleges and majors, I realized how impactful my experience with my band directors and general music teachers had been throughout the K-12 experience. They always were cheering me on and helped me strengthen my passion for music. My band director in high school was my biggest mentor. I want to teach students a way to express themselves through music, but I also want to act as a mentor for those students who may need it the way I did.”
What has been the most important or impactful part of your conservatory experience?
“Being able to work with another saxophonist who identifies as a woman has been one of the most impactful experiences I have had. Dr. [Amanda] Heim has been such a great resource not only for learning how to play the saxophone, but also as a mentor because she did music education for her undergraduate degree as well. At one point in my first year, I had three classes with her in one day. I genuinely cannot imagine my conservatory experience without her!”
What are your plans for after graduation?
“After graduation, I plan to teach either instrumental music or general music. My hope is high school or elementary school, but one of my student teaching placements this spring is in a middle school, so we will see if I have a change of heart.”
Tell me about your recital.
“My recital does not have a theme, but something I was passionate about was representing diverse composers. Of the three composers featured, one is a living woman, another is a living Egyptian composer, and the other was a Brazilian composer. Because of the instrument I play, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only performing the classics, written by white men in France during the 1800s. With such a modern instrument, I feel as though my recital reflects the versatility of the instrument. I am also excited to collaborate with the Tonal Energy Saxophone quartet and to be able to share such an important day with them.”
Which piece on your recital is your favorite to perform, and which one do you feel has been most rewarding?
“This is a hard choice, but I think “Enveloped” by Jenni Watson is my favorite. It features a nature soundtrack playing behind the performer, and creates a unique experience for the audience. The most rewarding is “Tangofourte” by Mohamed Saad Basha because it is the quartet piece. Being able to work with my peers and see the piece come together is wonderful, because we were supposed to play it in the spring of 2020 but were unable to because of COVID-19. Now, getting to perform it at my recital, it feels like the piece has come full circle.”
What is your advice for future conservatory students?
“My advice is to try things that are out of your comfort zone! There are so many different instruments and genres of music you could love and would never experience if you didn’t try it. Also, make sure to stop to enjoy the little joys of making music while you are here, since you have dedicated so much time to it.”
Summer Burton’s senior recital will be held at 2:30 p.m. in Paul Recital Hall in Schmucker Hall on Saturday, Nov. 13.