10 Questions with Tuneful Musician Ariana Stanberry
Updated: Mar 29, 2020
By Bridney C.
It is a pleasure to interview Ariana Stanberry for the Sweet Scoop.
The Mystic, Connecticut-based musician is a Jazz & Gospel saxophonist entering her sophomore year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Robert E. Fitch High School in Groton, CT in 2017 where she participated in the Fitch Marching Band, Concert Band, and Jazz Band.
Stanberry, 20, has performed at numerous sold-out shows and was the lead alto player for the 2017 Connecticut All-State Jazz Ensemble at the Connecticut All-State Music Festival. Her accomplishments include Best Overall Soloist at the Waterford Jazz Festival, Outstanding Musician at the Berklee Jazz Festival, and Outstanding Musician & Best Soloist at the Manchester Jazz Festival.
She also has experience working as an instructor, teaching music to students at the String Theory School of Music in New London, Connecticut. In her free time, she also teaches private saxophone lessons.
In this edition of 10 Questions, Stanberry shared how she first started playing saxophone, her family’s musical background, and her musical inspiration.
Bridney C: What is your stage name, if you have one?
Ariana Stanberry: I’ve never really thought about that before... Probably because I’ve never really seen myself as a stage artist. “Ariana’s Music” is my social media platform identification so either that or “Ariana” works!
BC: What sets you apart from other local musicians?
AS: I am a Christian and a Child of God. I try to live in a way that represents love, justice, kindness, honesty, peace, and humbleness. I also am a very experimental person which influences how I am as a musician. I don’t believe in limiting myself to a particular genre or style. When I express myself through the saxophone or singing, what comes out is a compilation of all the styles I’ve been exposed to, mostly gospel and jazz, and it also includes influence from other areas of my life such as pain and growth. I believe that my intention of choosing to never limit myself is evident within my musicianship. I’m also a very involved person who is always looking to grow. I enjoy working out and running. I also like to experiment and be adventurous in all areas of my life. I find that we as musicians should be just as focused on bettering ourselves in our everyday lives in and outside of the practice room. If we don’t strive to be our greatest, that same energy can easily be exposed in our craft.
BC: Which instruments do you play?
AS: The Alto Saxophone is my primary instrument. I also play the soprano and tenor sax. I play the piano just for fun. Some other instruments I have dabbled in before including trumpet, clarinet, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, and drums.
BC: When and why did you start playing instruments? What was the first tune(s) you learned to play?
AS: I started singing ever since I could speak. I started playing the bongo drums as my first instrument. In the 3rd grade, I started playing the viola. In 4th grade at the age of 9, I started playing the Alto Sax. I've been playing ever since. This year marks 11 years! I can't remember the first song. I have been blessed with really good ears so after learning the notes on each instrument, I was able to play any song I wanted to.
BC: What are you currently doing besides being a musician? Do you work full-time?
AS: I’m currently not doing any job, other than being a musician. Being a musician is my only full-time job.
BC: Is your family musical? If so, describe your family member's musical interests and abilities.
AS: Yes, my family is musical. My gift comes from the blood. My dad is a professional pianist and he also plays the bass, guitar, drums, and other instruments by ear. My mom is a singer and so is my older sister. My younger sister is multi-talented on various instruments like me. The majority of my cousins are musicians along with my aunts and uncles. My grandpa is also a pianist, guitarist, and singer. The musical genetics in my family never end.
BC: Who was your first teacher? Other teachers?
AS: My very first teacher I would say was my dad. He taught me to sing and because of him, I was surrounded by music in church as well as at home. From there, I took drum lessons at Portmore Missionary Prep School in Jamaica. Once I moved to the states, I had many music teachers throughout elementary school. My middle school band director’s name was Kevin Mazzarella. My high school band director’s name was Andrew Lefebvre. He gave me private saxophone lessons along with Cedric Mayfield, a member of the Coast Guard Band. Now, I am studying with different teachers at Berklee College of Music including Lance Van Lenten and Jeff Harrington.
BC: Which famous musicians do you admire? Why? Which famous musicians, if any, have you learned from?
AS: One famous musician that I admire is Tia Fuller. I look up to her because she is a strong black woman and she is the first saxophonist I ever discovered that looked like me and played the same instrument as me.
BC: Who is your main inspiration? Who are your main supporters?
AS: One of my biggest inspirations right now is Temlilayo Abodunrin. She is one of my international saxophone students from Lagos, Nigeria. She started playing the saxophone at the age of 6 and she is now 9 years old. She is very talented and confident in what she loves which is music. My main supporters are my family and friends.
BC: Are there any projects you are in the process of working on or any upcoming concerts you would like your fans to know about? If so, please describe them.
AS: I am currently finishing up some summer gigs. After, I will rest a little bit and dive back into a rigorous semester this Fall. I will be involved in multiple Berklee performances in Boston, but I do not have the dates and times yet. Once I do, I will be sure to share on my social media platforms and on my website. In addition to performances, I will be working on a potential EP or an album to be released by 2020. With God on my side, I’m sure all of these upcoming projects will be a success!
Be sure to visit Ariana Stanberry's website http://arianasmusic.com/ for updates.
Subscribe to her YouTube channel here!