Student Spotlight: Ruby Fishbein and Aaron Yang

Photo Courtesy of Ruby Fishbein

When you see musicians playing an instrument they have practiced for years, the movements and sounds can seem almost effortless. In reality, hours of time are dedicated to the object lying in their hands.

Freshman business major Aaron Yang began playing the saxophone in elementary school. During his freshmen and sophomore year of high school, he played for the New England Conservatory every day after school.

“Joining the conservatory taught me a lot about independence,” Yang said. “Every Friday, 14-year-old me had to take a train and subway to Boston, so I had to learn how to travel alone on public transportation and with an expensive instrument.”

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Photo Courtesy of Aaron Yang

Yang applies his playing the saxophone to other aspects of his life, not just music.

“Running and exercising has made me really good at breathing,” Yang said. “Sax training expands your lungs a lot. It also taught me to be more creative, because I had to improvise a lot in jazz band.”

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Photo Courtesy of Aaron Yang

Playing an instrument gave Yang the opportunity to form friendships outside of his hometown in rural Massachusetts.

“This one time, I was walking with this girl in my youth-wind ensemble, across Massachusetts Avenue,” Yang said. “She almost walked in front of a bus, and I pulled her back at the last second. When we went back to the rehearsal room, the conductor told us, ‘You have to play really well today—play like it’s gonna be your last day alive—play like you’re gonna walk out of the building and get hit by a bus.’ Everyone went silent, because most of us knew what had just happened.”

Sophomore animal science major Ruby Fishbein was in the fourth grade when she picked up the french horn for the first time.

“French horns have this amazing sound to them,” Fishbein said. “It’s one of the few instruments that are both in an orchestra and a symphonic band.”

In high school, Fishbein played the mellophone as well, a french horn made to be played primarily in marching or military bands.

According to Fishbein, the idea to play came initially from her sister, who told her it was not a very popular instrument, and that she should try it out.

Photo Courtesy of Ruby Fishbein
Photo Courtesy of Ruby Fishbein

While she had to give up her playing before starting college, Fishbein’s instrument-playing skills have led her to take music-based classes.

“Playing french horn ultimately taught me how to read, interpret, and understand music better,” Fishbein said. “I’m taking two music classes, and I have prior knowledge in these classes, because of my previous time spent in band.”

Fishbein has competed against other high schools in the state of Maryland with her instrument of choice.

“I love how it makes me feel when I’m connected to the music I’m playing, even if it’s probably not going to be what I’m doing with the rest of my life,” Fishbein said.