While most students focus on homework and studying for tests with their time outside of school, a few are taking their talents outside of the classroom. Amidst their already-busy school schedules, these students have found the time to practice and pursue their passions in the performing arts.
Senior Alex Dutton started practicing improv comedy in middle school and joined the high school improv team his freshman year.
The improv team has four shows per year and practices once per week, Dutton said. However, he wanted to perform more, so this year, he has expanded those skills to performing stand-up comedy at a professional level.
“There are open mics almost every night of the week,” Dutton said.
He said he enjoys the adrenaline rush he gets when he goes on stage, feeling the energy of the audience and like anything could happen.
In July, Dutton won a comedy contest against 15 professional comedians. It was his first show with a paying audience, and it was packed, he added. Winning made him realize that stand-up comedy was one of his talents.
“I’m hoping to go somewhere for college where I can do college and comedy,” Dutton said.
Similarly, senior Noah Schlondorff said he hopes to pursue his songwriting and singing career in college.
A few months ago, Schlondorff performed his first headlining show in Columbus. It ended up being one of his favorite performances along with the school talent show, he said.
He explained he has made connections and met many new people through performing his music, despite the limited community of artists in Columbus.
Schlondorff explained he hasn’t established his name well enough to directly contact a venue’s booking team to get a show. The process of scheduling a performance changes every time because he doesn’t have an agent to book his shows, he explained.
“At a lot of venues I have started out doing open mics, and if they have a weekend festival I’ll do that, and then build my way up to the show,” he said.
Schlondorff did an open mic at his most recent show in Columbus, he said. The booking manager for the venue was there, and he asked Schlondorff if he wanted to book a show.
Schlondorff said his parents made him take piano lessons when he was younger and never let him quit. Although he didn’t enjoy it at first, he forced himself to like it because he played it so frequently, he explained.
Like Schlondorff, senior Jordan Steinbrook’s parents were a big reason he started playing instruments. Steinbrook said he plays multiple instruments, including the piano, trumpet, bass, drums and guitar.
He grew up in a family of musicians, inspiring him to start performing professionally at 14 years old.
He said he plays solo jazz piano every Sunday at The Top Steak House with his band, The Long Street Combo, every other Saturday at the Westgate farmers market and at various private events for companies, parties, weddings and other social events.
“I tend to gain lots of adrenaline and energy from playing, and it puts me into a good mood getting to do what I love,” he said.
Steinbrook said he plans on attending college for jazz studies and composition. He explained his goal is to eventually travel the world to write and record his own music.
Currently, his favorite part of performing is bringing people joy and collaborating with other musicians.
“I’ve learned over the last few years of performing to treat every opportunity the same,” he said. “Whether it’s me playing at Kemba Live in front of 2,500 people with long-time running musicians versus me playing piano by myself in front of only a few people at a restaurant, I’ve been grateful for everything that I’ve been given.”