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Project Spotlight: Anna, the Musician

Musicians - like athletes - are creative and disciplined.

Anna, a student of the Kemerovo State Institute of Culture, is a participant of Girls Education Nation's academic scholarship program. Since a young age, Anna has had a love of music and did everything she could to expand her repertoire of instruments.

We had the chance to sit down with Anna and interview her. Since she is currently a student in Kemerovo, Ann is in a city located 1000 km from the city of Minusinsk, where GEN focuses our work and operations. Her long term goals are to return to Minusinsk, where she wants to expand access to music and musical education.

Kemerovo has long been known as one of the centers of the coal industry in Russia. But why did Anna, a future professional musician, chose the capital of Kuzbass as the place of her education?

"When it came to choosing a school in another city, I mostly relied on the opinion of my friends. At first, I didn’t really want to go to the Kemerovo State Institute of Culture, since I didn’t know the city and I wasn’t sure how hard it would be to get used to living alone in a new place. But I took a chance and I don’t regret it at all!" Anna shared, when asked about her decision to move so far away from her family and friends.

She has been going through the difficult curriculum alone, with no external support. Students outside of the music department, "regular students", read a lot and study for seminars and exams. However, this is not the case for students majoring in music.

"Everything is different with us. We’re just like athletes - we need to practice 5-6 hours a day. It’s hard and it takes enormous dedication. In addition, like athletes, we have our own competitions - performances and concerts," Anna shared, "I always get nervous when they come."

Very often, Anna finds herself with no free time to pursue other hobbies or see her friends. In her final year of university, she shared that the workload has not decreased, while the needs are plenty. "I, like many other students, cannot earn extra money," Anna shared, recognizing that this was very common for students in her department, "First, not having a part-time job makes it harder to live, because the support I get from my parents can't cover everything. Second, it is difficult to “gain” experience without a side job."

"Fortunately, thanks to the monthly GEN scholarship support, I can now devote my time to helping and teaching other students without harm to my studies and my health. Also, helping other students gives me so much needed experience in the field."

Working with GEN has also expanded the opportunities for Anna to leverage the virtual learning environment. Despite losing access to in-person classes, where students could learn from and directly communicate with each other and the Professors, Anna has found herself being creative, "As music students, we are distinguished not only by creativity, but also by strict discipline. Without discipline, it's hard to force yourself to practice the same melody for 6 hours. So distance learning taught me a lot and showed me a lot."

We asked Anna if she had any advice to others, who might still be thinking about and deciding whether to go to a music school or not.

"First you need to know that it will not be easy as elsewhere. If a person has been burning with creativity for a long time and wants to turn it into their profession, then of course school is important! But it is very important to know that creativity requires full dedication and does not tolerate laziness."

Anna is one of the many students that Girls Education Nation is sponsoring. The GEN model is to ask our supported students to provide something in return to their community. Anna has chosen to be a tutor and is working with two first-year students in her department to offer them personal music training. We welcome you to join GEN in making a difference in the lives of girls and women like Anna!

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