Music enthusiast joins The Harmony Project after discovering her passion for the viola

Music enthusiast joins The Harmony Project after discovering her passion for the viola

Brian Andrade

CSUN sophomore, Kenya Alas, practices playing the viola after teaching two back-to-back children’s music classes. Photo credit: Spencer Kilgore / Daily Sundial

Every day Kenya Alas, a sophomore majoring in music education, takes time to engage in what defines her: playing music.

What is it about the study that she loves?

“I enjoy it as a whole, every aspect: listening to the infinite varieties of music genres, playing orchestra with a group who shares my exact passion, and especially how it always finds its way to relax me,” Alas said.

Such a strong desire for music was not always present for the talented musician. As an adolescent she was forced by her parents to play in her elementary school orchestra. Common stereotypes of being in a school band were found in her early attitude toward music.

“It seemed boring and really dorky when I first started,” she said.

Years passed and her resistance to performing did not change.

It was not until high school where she found her love for the art. After ending a three-year relationship, she realized transferring to a new school would be a healthy way to rebuild herself. A visual and performing arts school in Downtown Los Angeles had just opened and she immediately knew it would be a good choice.

Already familiar with playing, she decided to join the school orchestra. Alas played viola at Ramon C. Cortines School of Arts.

Music at this moment changed Alas’ life. The viola’s powerful, rich, and hollow sound enlightened the instrumentalist.

Practice, once a tedious routine, to her surprise soon became a hobby. Every morning she looked forward to intertwining herself with her instrument. Playing served as a therapeutic remedy that helped her move on from her past.

This sudden epiphany has shaped Alas into the individual she is.

“I finally had something to identify myself with,” Alas said. “Now, I am able to say, ‘My name is Kenya and this is what I do.'”

Alas enthusiastically involves herself with music in any way she can. Because of her enthusiasm for playing, she volunteered for The Harmony Project where she mentored and gave viola lessons to Los Angeles youth interested in learning music.

Recently, she began teaching an instrumental class at Calhan Elementary School with other passionate CSUN students. Although it can be challenging at times, Alas believes the end result of seeing a child finally connect to playing is well worth it.

“I’ve been given such a great gift,” Alas said. “It’s only right that I give and demonstrate to others what made my life profound.”

Her music experience involves choral singing, clarinet, piano, violin, and her obvious favorite, the viola.

Alas’ dream career is to be a music educator. Although she has a long road of musical theory, as well as several upcoming performances, Kenya continues to be an optimistic music enthusiast.