A native of Tucson, Arizona, Lara came to Naropa in 2007 seeking a music program that was flexible and able to blend with her interest in creative writing. "I looked into it," she says, "And all the reasons I hadn’t originally gone to a music school (rigid curriculum, intensive specialized classical training and lack of interconnection between musical disciplines) seemed to disappear in Naropa’s program."
The personal attention found at a smaller school is likewise "invaluable and unable to be compromised," she says, especially when designing one's own curriculum. Naropa has "helped me to integrate the processes of music and creative writing, something I’ve been yearning to do for quite a while. I’ll carry the support of my teachers with me long past my graduation date, and the skills I’ve gained in organizing and carrying out large projects will no doubt be put to use in everything I pursue."
From writing a new song a week in Janet Feder's composition class to exploring the recording studio, Lara has found a program that keeps her creative skills sharp while introducing tools of the industry. "I brought my sister into the recording studio when she visited from Arizona for Thanksgiving, and we spent four hours writing and recording a violin part for a piano song I had written. It was our first real collaboration, and it turned into something of a personal masterpiece. I will certainly continue to use my new knowledge of recording studio technology to record, engineer and promote music." Another standout moment was at the end-of-the-year concert. "My composition class played a song we’d written together, an almost-monumental achievement among six people with completely different musical tastes, skills, and interests, and we all stepped outside of our comfort zones and multi-tasked."
Scheduled to graduate in May, Lara is busily finishing up her senior project, which involves teaching two songwriting/creative writing workshops for teens—one with TEENS Inc. out of Nederland and the other with Project YES in Lafayette. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue work with those organizations.
"It's good to spend time envisioning your future as a musician," she says. "Do you want to tour, to travel? Are you interested in teaching? If you spend time envisioning what you want for yourself and balancing that with practical experience, you ground yourself in possibility. There's so much you can do with music...."