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My name is Sergio Ramirez. I am a 17-year old aspiring, Mexican-American musician who is about to take his next step into the future: college! I am a classical and jazz guitarist based in the Bronx, where for many of my fellow Bronxites life can be very difficult, both financially and socially. The Bronx is New York City’s poorest neighborhood* where the arts are very heavily underfunded**. A community of minorities, the Bronx is a place full of beautiful cultures and amazing people but is also a place of struggle and economic burden. Even in a place full of culture and diversity, it is almost unheard of for a classical or jazz musician to come from the Bronx in this day and age and make it into the mainstream music scene simply because learning music can become very expensive. I have been able to receive inexpensive to free lessons from my current teacher and am grateful for this because when I met him, he saw something in me and has given me the opportunity to be able to learn music.
As the college-application season comes to a close, I have been practicing rigorously for my upcoming college auditions. From performing the pieces of Bach to the tunes of Charlie Parker, my auditions are of the utmost importance to be able to receive as many acceptances and as much financial aid that I can get from the top-notch universities that I am applying to across the East Coast of the United States. My father is a Mexican native to Puebla City and works through intense physical labor every day and night, even through this painful, 5-degree weather to support my family and keep us from living off the streets if that means even having to live from paycheck to paycheck. My mother stays home and takes care of my 15-year-old sister, myself, and is often not being able to sleep for days on end as she takes care of the newest addition to my family: my darling three-year-old sister.
I am fundraising to be able to buy a concert-level classical guitar and a jazz guitar for these upcoming auditions. My inexpensive student-level instruments are not enough to give me an advantage on the audition stage. Their level of projection, resonance, and sound quality will not compare to the higher-quality instruments which will surely be used by the other applicants at these schools. My single-income family cannot afford to make these expenses, as we could barely afford to pay just for my college applications this fall-winter application season. These instruments will not only be useful for my auditions, but for the rest of my career!
Professional, Concert-level Classical Guitar: $5,000 Professional, Concert-level Jazz Guitar: $3,000 Additional Instrumental Costs (High-Quality Instrument Cases, etc.): $800
By donating to me, you’ll not only be donating to a Mexican-American boy living in the Bronx, but the next generation of music as well.
“What does Sergio want to do with music in the future?”
With music, I want to be able to inspire people and help people the same way music was affected me. If a musical phrase or note can help somebody going through a rough time or to inspire them to pursue music and love it the way I do, I want to spread to as many people as I can.
“But who is Sergio Ramirez? What’s his story?”
My story is one of music, struggle, and a unique journey that has taken me out of the Bronx and into the universal world of harmonic beauty and audible color.
The following is a long narrative but is nonetheless an optional supplement to the above video.
Many artists can trace their career goals to one particular moment; when everything seems to click and they find themselves unable to imagine themselves doing anything but creating music. It was the summer of 2012 and I went to a party in the Bronx where the musician hosts would perform on a small stage in their backyard. Growing up I never heard much live music as it was always a luxury too expensive for my parents to afford. That night, watching those musicians create audible beauty was the moment my life would change forever and I have taken advantage of various opportunities that have come my way since this magical moment, such as attending the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music and learning the violin, furthering that skill with my high school’s program partner, the Bloomingdale School of Music. I have even been able to meet wonderful people at their partner, the 92nd Street Y (a world-renowned community center in New York City). Because of my participation in my high school’s program, I have performed with Grammy-award winning Paquito D’Rivera and have traveled to various states and countries around the world.
As mentioned in the video, I’ve been able to work as a professional musician before beginning my college career. Thanks to touring and performance, I have experienced the different cultures, lifestyles, and realities that exist in the United States. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin I met classically-trained Latino students in the Latino Arts Strings Program and learned about their lives and the realities they go through in Wisconsin. I learned that there is life beyond the confines of New York City, and that around the country there are Latino students just like me whose lives revolve around music and will try to make a living off of it, what they love doing most. At New York City’s Symphony Space, I performed professionally for the first time, and that was when I realized that I loved being on stage with other musicians, sharing music unto the world. During college, I will hone my skills as a musician, creating a vast network of contacts and will attain the knowledge necessary to create a living out of music.
Performance and music saved my life.
During the entirety of the 11th grade, my life became a bleak struggle against severe depression, anxiety, and a bizarre case of what my doctors labeled as a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When I went to see a professional for the first time about what was happening to me, I was dumbfounded to hear that I was severely depressed with anxiety and had PTSD. Since childhood, I’ve always been a joyous person. Until this moment, I had never had a problem creating meaningful relationships with other people and never experienced any serious health issues. I grew up in a healthy environment and excelled academically since childhood. I was probably the person you would least expect to suffer of psychological illnesses of this caliber, but it happened thanks to bullying and unfortunate events I went through in high school.
I became terrified of going to school. I could not leave my house without hyperventilating and shaking, resulting in severe panic attacks. This was my case of PTSD and over the course of seven months, my grades dropped drastically. Thankfully, with the help of a consistent psychologist and psychiatrist treatment, I would eventually make a gradual return to school and recover from those seven months when my life was no longer in my control. I continued playing music, practicing the guitar and making sure that I would never lose the part of me that I loved the most. My friends and family helped me recover from this with love and enormous demonstrations of support every single day, but music was what kept me stable. I even kept performing with the Villalobos Brothers across America because whenever I was on stage, I would feel normal again. It was a sanctuary away from the problems I was facing at home.
I love music; my dream is music and I cannot see myself doing anything but music for the rest of my life.
Please help me reach my goal and support my hopes and dreams in not only college but for the rest of my career! Thank you :)
- Alberto Villalobos
- Meagan Van Ahn
- Zarela Martinez
- Kneeco Hanton
- Laura Garcìa
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