Interview with Shankari Lakshminarayanan

Every non-profit depends on volunteers, and we are no exception. This week I sat down with one of our All Star volunteers Shankari Lakshminarayanan to talk about her thoughts on the music school, how she found us, and why she spends so much time helping us make NCMS the wonderful school we know it to be.

Me: So I'm excited I get to talk to you today! This is actually the first interview we're doing for this blog. We want to talk to the students, we want to talk to the teachers, we hope it's going to be a resource for everyone, and I want it to be fun as well. Keeping that in mind, where do you live?
Shankari: In Nashua.
Me: So when did you hear about the school? When did you relationship with NCMS start?
Shankari: The summer between 5th and 6th grade, I started piano lessons with a beginner teacher for about a few months. I eventually wanted to take real piano lessons. I did a google search and found NCMS, my mom thought it looked nice and we knew a lot of people that were already in it. I started taking piano lessons here between 6th and 7th grade, which was 2 years ago.
Me: Oh, so you're about to go into high school? Are you excited?
Shankari: Yes, I'm going to be a freshman in high school. I'm excited, but it seems like a big school and I don't want to get lost.
Me: It's always intimidating going into a new building, even adults starting new jobs. It will probably seem so small by the end of the week. So congrats on graduating.
Shankari: Thank you.
Me:  So who do you currently take lessons with here?
Shankari: Um, right now, I'm not learning at the Nashua Community Music School, because at the end of 8th grade kind of got tough for me to do schoolwork, so I'm kind of taking a break right now, but I'm still playing at home.
Me: Oh, I don't blame you! You can be completely honest. The end of 8th grade is such a killer. Who were you taking lessons with over the last couple of years?
Shankari: I started with Yuna Roh, then started with Johnna Ross after Yuna left.
Me: What did you like about Johnna?
At this point, Shankari got visibly excited.
Shankari: She was a really, really nice teacher. It wasn't just all about the notes and dynamics, it was also about what you feel about the music. I really liked that about her. It wasn't just learn the music, memorize it, play it, it was what do you want to portray to an audience.
Me: That's awesome! I look for that in my teachers as well. I bet a lot of piano teachers are really focused on getting all of the right notes.
Shankari: Yeah.

Me: Why did you decide to start volunteering here?
Shankari: Some of my friends started babysitting and volunteering, and I was already looking for some places to volunteer. I heard from people in college and my older friends that it's not how many places you volunteer, it's where you volunteer and if you can stick with it. I thought that I like to be around animals, I like to run, I like piano, and I like to draw. So I thought, why not volunteer at places where I can be around things that I like. Then, I came to my sister's [Bhavani's] recital in the spring and Lindsay mentioned it would be great to have volunteers over the summer, so I asked her about it. 
Me: So when you're saying that people like volunteering to be from one place consistently, you're talking about what colleges like to see?
Shankari: Yes.
She said this bashfully
Me: It's okay! We're not going to look down on you or anything if you didn't volunteer from the goodness of your heart and nothing else. I think it's a little ridiculous to ask that of anyone. I think trying to look good for college is a very noble reason to do something.
Me: By the way, I just want to take this moment to thank you so much for all the hours you're doing, whether it's for college or not. I don't think people understand how beneficial it is to a nonprofit organization, especially one with a smaller staff, how much of a help that is.
Shankari: Oh it's no problem. I thought it would be a lot harder, like moving tables, but it's just easy work so I don't mind.
Me: I think one of the advantages of volunteering here is it's not a lot of manual labor, and Lindsay's really good at keeping people from getting bored.
Shankari nodded in agreement.
Me: Alright, we've gotten to the cheesy soundbite section of the interview. What's your favorite thing about the school?
Shankari: There are a lot of things I like about the school. Like with Johnna, the teachers really care about you as a pianist or whatever instrument you play, what you want it to sound like. They let you pick your own music; it's very open. Everyone is super friendly and really nice. There are lots of instruments here so at the recitals it's not just piano, it's not just voice, it's interesting to listen to. And there are all ages. It's very open.
Me: Why should other people volunteer here? I have 'no manual labor,' which is nice, but is there anything else?
Shankari: The schedule is super flexible, you can just work whenever you have time. Lindsay just usually gives us the time she's here, and we can just come whenever we can, it's really open. Oh! You don't have to be a certain age to volunteer. I had trouble finding places to volunteer because I'm younger than 16.

I think I thanked Shankari about 100 times for all her work here. If it wasn't for her, the new Music Library would be nowhere close to being done, and I've gotten more than one excited remark that we have it now!

Do you want to donate to the Nashua Community Music School? You may visit our Donations page or email to volunteer!

Ashley Wright

Ashley has a breadth of experience in administration, music, and music management. She currently works as the Office Registrar at the Nashua Community Music School and manages the New England Chamber Players and Barbershop Ladies of Tallahassee (where she was a founding member). Ashley designed and implemented both the NECP and BLT websites, as well as designed the BLT logo. She was formerly an usher and stage crew member at the Florida State University Ruby Diamond Auditorium, and a resident assistant and office assistant at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

Ashley has played with the Nevers’ Second Regiment Band, the Southern New Hampshire University Wind Symphony, and she attended the Belgian Clarinet Academy last summer. She recently graduated with a BA in Music from Florida State University as a clarinet major, where she studied with Dr. Deborah Bish. For other musical accomplishments: last year, Ashley composed a film score that was recorded by the Florida State University Philharmonia Orchestra and played tenor saxophone and sung backup vocals in the FSU Ruby Diamond Auditorium for the FSU Blues Band with Charles Atkins.

She received her first bachelor's degree in physics (with a music minor) from Boston University. She worked as an engineer for two years in Quality Assurance and Software before returning to school for her music degree, and she spent last summer as a software intern. She has a lot of experience developing independent Python tools, especially for data processing.