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A Q&A with Daniel Kim, clarinetist
Daniel Kim
Daniel Kim

Richmond Hill High School alumnus Daniel Kim, a clarinetist performing with Jennifer Saavedra Tovar, placed third in chamber music during the International Mozart Competition in 2022 in Vienna, Austria. That’s newsworthy. Here’s his story.

Q: Please introduce yourself to our readers.

A: Hello! My name is Daniel Kim and I just graduated from the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University this past Friday with a Bachelor’s in Music Education. I graduated from Richmond Hill High School back in May of 2019. I have two loving parents, Cheol Kim and Young Bok Han and three brothers; Sam, Sunoo, and Alden Kim. My older brother, Sam, is in the Navy proudly serving our country. Sunoo is about to graduate from RHHS this Saturday and Alden is a rising sophomore at RHHS. My dad is a pastor and has been since before I was born. My mom is currently one of the paraprofessionals at RHHS.

Q: How did you become interested in music?

A: My mom is a piano teacher and naturally, I was exposed to music at an early age and began to show interest in it. I took piano lessons from my mom, and after our family moved to the States (we are originally from South Korea), I was presented with more opportunities to partake in musical activities such as band and orchestra in the Savannah area. At first, I had no intention of joining band in middle school, but my mom strongly suggested that I do which to that I am so thankful she did. I decided to pick up the clarinet and I have not looked back since.

Q: What are some of your accomplishments as a musician. 

A: I did what a lot of middle and high school band students do in the state of Georgia; auditioning for District Honor Band and All-State Band. I worked very hard each year for the auditions and made it into both Honor Band and All-State Band consecutively every year from my 7th-grade year to my senior year! I was the recipient of the Henry Ford Award in middle school and the John Philip Sousa Award in high school, both of which are the highest honor a student can receive at the end of the year from the directors of the band program. I also had the opportunity to perform with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra this semester, and this was my first time performing with an orchestra on a professional level and it was such an amazing experience. Most recently, my dear friend from Schwob and I placed third place at the International Mozart Competition in Vienna! This was such a wild experience for me because never in a million years would I have thought to place on an international level. After graduation, I am planning to attend Arizona State University for my master’s in Clarinet Performance in Fall 2023. I am very excited for this next chapter in my life!

Q: Why do you play the clarinet?

A: Originally, I had no interest in playing the clarinet. I had my eyes on the flute for quite some time, days before the instrument petting zoo held at RHMS for rising 6th graders interested in taking band class in the fall. When I went over to the table with the flutes, I saw that the entire table was full of girls and I thought “I don’t want to be the only guy who plays flute in the band!” All I knew back at that time was that I wanted to play a woodwind instrument. I was drawn to the sweet, melodic lines the woodwinds would get in band and orchestral music. After careful consideration, I decided to try the clarinet and to my surprise, I was able to get a decent sound out of the instrument on my first try. On the way out after picking the clarinet as my instrument, my middle school band director, Mrs. Alisha Bowden stopped me and my mom in the hallway and made this one tiny comment, “You sounded really good! Happy to have you join band next year!” Though it may sound like it was not a big deal, to me this was such a confidence boost and I still remember it to this day.

Q: What’s your goal in music and life?

A: I would love to one day be a clarinet professor at a university! I love performing as well, so winning a position in an orchestra is something I would love to do! When I came into college, my mind was set on being a band director in high school, but the more time I spent playing the clarinet, the more I fell in love with it! I have also been fortunate enough to be asked to coach the clarinet students in the surrounding schools of Columbus and through that, I was able to recruit some of my current students in my private studio which solidified my passion for teaching clarinet even more. Some of my students’ achievements include: getting accepted into colleges for music education and being selected for District Honor Band.

Q: Who’s your favorite composer?

A: Johannes Brahms! Out of all the music I have played in college, his music resonates within me like no other. His Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in Eb Major was the first piece by him I played in college and it still remains one of my all-time favorite clarinet pieces, especially the second movement.

Q: How has music helped you in life?

A: Music for me is something that I can’t imagine life without. It has played a crucial role in shaping who I am today. Through music, I was able to build lifelong relationships with friends and mentors who have supported me every step of the way in my musical journey.

Q: Name some inspirations and mentors.

A: I have so many people to thank who have helped me on my musical journey. I would like to first thank my middle and high school band directors, and my past clarinet teachers: Mrs. Alisha Bowden, Mr. Paul Vogel, Dr. Daniel Kiene, Dr. Lia Snead, Ms. Gloria Sutter, and Mrs. Kristen Spiridon. They were the ones who instilled in me a passion for music at an early stage in my life. I would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the faculty and professors of Schwob, especially my dear professor Dr. Lisa Oberlander. They were all able to take what I had to offer back when I first entered college as a freshman and work with it to make me the best version of a musician I can be. Last and certainly not least, my friends and family were there for me every step of the way and I definitely would not be here today without their support and love.

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are interested in pursuing music in college?

A: Follow your heart. I was exactly in your shoes just four years ago wondering if this was the right path for me. I was doubting my skills of becoming a teacher and a musician and worried that I won’t be able to make it. Something that I learned over the four years at Schwob is that if there is a will, there is a way. If you truly have a passion for music and/or teaching, do it! Additionally, you are not limited to just teaching and performing. There are so many other music related careers such as music therapy, music administration, music technology and a ton more. You will find your own place in the world of music. And if you are interested in pursuing music education or performance, consider applying to the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University. You will be challenged in ways you cannot imagine, but the faculty and the environment will support you every step of the way because they want to see you succeed.

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