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April 21, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Miles Files: Menlo School junior is a well-tuned vocal soloist and painter Miles Files: Menlo School junior is a well-tuned vocal soloist and painter (April 21, 2004)

By Miles McMullin
7th grader, St. Joseph's School

A soloist in the California Coastal Region Honor Choir, a participant in the All State Honor Choir, and a budding painter. That's my neighbor, Jennifer Mitchell, 16, a junior at Menlo School in Atherton.

I have always wanted to know what motivated her. So I asked!

Q. Why do you like to sing and paint?
A. They are both ways to express yourself; they are different and fun. With singing, you get to the top of the profession by practicing and practicing. With painting, it is more internal; a great way to express yourself. People can criticize your art all they want, but in your heart you know it is your thing.

Q. How did you get interested in singing and painting?
A. When I was a little girl I watched my mom paint. I used to goof around with paints while she was painting. As I grew a little older, my mom and I took painting lessons together, which became our own fun way to relate. For singing, I used to take piano, but I was never very good. However, I always sung with my piano teacher after my lesson. My teacher recommended that I take voice lessons, so I tried them. Right away I fell in love with singing. I was also good at it, and I know I can do better.

Q. What are your goals in singing and painting?
A. I have no specific goals right now, just to study and learn as much as I can. If I follow that path I will be happy.

Q. What singing awards have you won?
A. I first was in the California Coastal Region Honor Choir, and I did a solo for them, which was a big deal. In March, California All State Honor Choir held an audition for the All State Honor Choir. I auditioned and made it with my solo.

Q. What do you dislike about singing and painting?
A. While painting, I dislike how it takes such a long time to paint one picture and how you have to pay close attention to detail. In singing, your voice is always at the mercy of how you feel. If I am tired, I sound horrible. I can not have control over my voice when I am tired.

Q. What kind of training did you experience?
A. Twice a week, I had private voice lessons since eighth grade. In these lessons, I had 30 minute warm-ups, technique, then started with easy music pieces, and eventually moved to musical theater. I now have a solid foundation, which helps me for my future no matter what I do. In addition, for painting, I have taken lessons with my mom and an art teacher.

Q. How does it feel to be a junior at Menlo School in Atherton? Where are you applying to college?
A. It is hard to cope with school and my activities, and I always wish I could sleep more. I know if I work hard now I will have unlimited opportunities. My college choices are New York University Tisch School of Arts, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia.

Who knows where Jennifer Mitchell will be in the future. Take my advice and be sure to ask for her autograph now as I bet we will be reading about her in the New York Times someday.

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