Rev. Dierdre’ Parker- Rowson
Entertainment and The Arts Editor, The Star of Zion
Photos provided by Mrs. Trudy Kent
May 12, 2023
New York - The New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) has as its mission, the advancement of music education across New York State for its membership and students in member school programs. One hundred thousand students participate in spring adjudication festivals around the state. Approximately 7,000 students audition for the 5 All-State performing groups, and just under 600 are selected to participate annually. One student who was among the 600 who participated this year, is Ariel Kent. Ariel is a member of Greater Centennial A.M.E. Zion Church, in Mount Vernon, NY. She is the daughter of Warren and Trudy Kent and niece of our Editor in Chief, Mr. Darin Kent. I had the pleasure of speaking with proud mom, Trudy Kent.
It is no accident that Ariel is a phenomenal musician. Her mother’s commitment to her success is as inspiring as Ariel’s awesome talent. It is hard work, dedication, and of course practice, practice, practice, that earned Ariel her coveted spot in the performance festival this year. Mrs. Kent is there to encourage and support her every step of the way.
Ariel started playing the piano at age five with Mrs. Neal. “Mrs. Neal is amazing,” says Mrs. Kent. “She doesn’t care about the money; she just wants the kids to love music.”
Ariel started with a keyboard. She started out practicing one to two minutes a day. Mrs. Kent is a Social Worker for Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition. During the pandemic, as a part of a virtual fundraiser, Ariel, and her older sister GiGi performed for the company. The executive director saw them perform and contacted her and said that they had a piano to donate and wanted to know if Ariel wanted one. They were impressed with Ariel’s talent and noticed that she had a keyboard and wanted to bless her with a piano. All they had to do was pick it up.
To hear of her accomplishments, one would believe that she is a teenager. No. Ariel Kent is nine years old. Her mother speaks of her discipline, her knowledge, and her skills which again, all sounds like someone who is at least in high school. I mentioned that she sounds like a prodigy. “No, she’s not a prodigy.” Her mother says, “It’s hard work. Being an African American girl in a mostly white community, you have to work hard. You have to work 10 times harder than your white counterparts.” Ariel puts in the work.
Ariel is in the fourth grade. In the school that she is in, you have to choose an instrument. Piano wasn’t one of the options. Ariel chose violin. Her music teacher says that a fourth grader rarely goes to NYSSMA because you have to be able to read music. Ariel reads music. Ariel performed at the Spring Adjudication in piano and violin.
Ariel performed on the violin for the judges and came out confident. “She knew she blew it out of the box,” Mom said. She had some time to practice on the piano. When she came out from her piano performance she was crying. “Why are you crying?” Mrs. Kent asked. Ariel said that she had messed up. Her mother told her that it was okay. “This is your first time doing this NYSSMA thing. Look at the people that are here. These kids or at the top of what they do. You are one of four chosen from your school to perform at NYSSMA. The fact that you are here means You Did It!”
She got her scores the following Monday. Ariel ran into the house and excitedly told her mother she was one of the only kids to get a PERFECT score on the violin. A perfect score was 28. She got a 27 on piano. Ariel Kent’s talent and hard work, along with the support of her family is going to take her a long way. Congratulations Ariel Kent, you are a phenomenal young lady!
Remember her name because I believe you will be hearing it again and again.