Songbirds of a different feather

Zosia Falkowska and Annalee Blake reflect on how singing has shaped their lives.

Kallie Slotvig and Katrina Renacia

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Students are all shaped by music in different ways; for these students, their passion is found in singing.

Zosia Falkowska

For Polish exchange student Zosia Falkowska, 10, singing has become an influential part of her life. “Singing makes me happy and it calms me down,” she said. “It’s like a therapy for me.

Falkowska has been taking weekly voice lessons since she was 11. In the same year, she competed in her first competition, Mam Talent.

“I was very scared and nervous but it turned out pretty well. It made me more confident with my voice,” she said. Falkowska placed second, singing an a cappella version of ABBA’s song “Money, Money.”

Although her native tongue is Polish, Falkowska has always preferred American music. “I love English songs because I feel like I can relate to their lyrics more,” she said. “They also have a prettier melody and sound more modern.”

Falkowska credits her favorite artists, Sia, Birdy and Lana del Ray, for constant inspiration. Since coming to Mounds View and joining choir, she has found a collaborative community that shares her passion.

“I wanted to join choir at first because I wanted to sing and practice my voice,” she said. “MV choir has become like a family to me. I love the songs that we are doing and how we sound together as a group.”

    In her free time, Falkowska loves to play the piano and make YouTube covers. Some of the songs she’s covered include “Stay” by Rihanna, “Shape of My Heart” by Sting, “Video Games” by Lana del Ray and “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber. However, she’s had to put recording on hold while she’s in the states.

As her exchange year comes to an end, Falkowska looks forward to getting back into the rhythm of things.

“I miss recording Youtube covers,” she said. “But I have everything I need back home, so I’ll probably be spending my first few days recording covers.”

Annalee Blake

Annalee Blake

Eva Hoffman
Annalee Blake in singing position

For many, speaking or performing in public is an anxiety-ridden task, but for Annalee Blake, 12, it is her release. “To me, music is an escape from reality,” she said. “It brings me peace and joy and fills me spiritually.”

Blake has sung the national anthem, performed in talent shows and currently leads Sunday morning worship at her church. Although she has performed over 150 times, she has never gotten nervous on stage.

“I don’t get nervous with anything music-wise,” she said. “For me, track and school is challenging, but music is my escape. I always say I could sing in front of 1,000 people and I wouldn’t get nervous.”

She put this to the test when she sang in front of her largest audience—1,200 people—at a Youth In Government talent show, and remained nerve-free.

Out of all of these performances, Teens Encounter Christ was most memorable.

“The reason why it was the most memorable place wasn’t because of the amount of people, but because of the spiritual setting and peace that was with all of us at the time,” said Blake. “In those settings, I hope not to leave an impact of impression, but offer the people listening a place to feel spiritually connected.”

Blake’s passion for music began in fourth grade when she joined orchestra and learned her first instrument, the violin. This was just the beginning for Blake, who now plays five instruments: guitar, violin, mandolin, percussion and piano.

Though she is the only musician in her family, her parents have always supported her. “They always support and encourage me,” she said.

Over the years, the guitar has become Blake’s favorite. After receiving a guitar from her uncle, she began learning to play in sixth grade with the help of a beginner book.

“I always thought guitar would be the greatest instrument to learn because it can be incorporated in any musical setting,” said Blake. “I also loved to sing and wanted to be able to accompany myself with guitar. It was definitely challenging at first, but after about four to six months it became easier and now I can pretty much teach myself anything I put my mind to.”

With her guitar experience, Blake was able to create her own chord progression to the national anthem which she sang for the first time at a home wrestling match in 2012. Since then, she has performed the national anthem around 20 different times at a variety of school events.

Blake’s passion for music and performance has only increased since her first time on stage. She hopes to incorporate both into her future.

“I would love to continue being a church musician in the future and continue having music as a hobby in my life,” she said.

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