Engstrom, a 16-year-old junior at Reed High School, joined her first choir in the third grade and she said she really became passionate about it by the time she was in middle school. She is currently enrolled in three choir classes at Reed, accompanied by two Advanced Placement courses and two additional courses, and she is also a member of the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra.
“My whole family is musical. My parents play instruments, my mom is choir teacher and my sister is a choir teacher so it really runs in the family,” Engstrom said. “(My passion) started with my family and just grew a lot from there because I really love performing and being a part of a musical group. I think it is really an experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Engstrom sings in the alto section of Reed’s choir and, because of a schedule conflict with Reed’s orchestra, takes her alto saxophone talents to the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra. She said the camaraderie among the members of her multiple choir classes forms a special bond allowing her to feel comfortable and confident in her abilities.
“(Choir) is probably the biggest and most important thing to me, right now, in my life because those kids are just so great,” Engstrom said of her Reed classmates. “You could have the worst day ever and then go to 6th period at the end of the day, which is Intermezzo, and there are 40 kids there who will just love you and have a good time. It’s a really awesome place to be.”
By comparison, Engstrom said she only has the chance to see her bandmates in the youth orchestra once a week. Though it is a truncated amount of time to form long-lasting relationships, she said it is enough to remain motivated to perform at a high level.
“I feel like music just brings people together even if you are only playing once a week with someone you can still have a special bond with them that you probably can’t get anywhere else,” she said.
With only a year and a half of high school left, Engstrom said she is beginning to set her sights on colleges catered to her musical inclination. Though she is in the preliminary stages of searching, she feels Northern Colorado University will be a great fit for her degree in musical education.
“They have a really good program for music education, musical theater, vocal jazz and jazz band which is all the things I really love to do,” she said.
After completing her degree Engstrom said she plans to become a choir teacher. She cited her mother and sister, both who have taught her throughout her life, as the inspiration for her future career.
“I used to have plans to be on broadway and stuff,” Engstrom said laughing, “But I think it was my freshman year I really decided that when I look at my mom teach she is really inspiring to me because she can change someone’s life in a second because they join choir and they do it for the rest of their education.
“I just want to be someone who can change someone’s life. I feel like teaching is something where I can make a difference.”
Engstrom said she plans to blend the teaching styles of her mother and sister in developing her own methods. She hopes a dash of fun mixed in a recipe of serious will provide the perfect combination for her future students.
“I think that when I become a teacher I will have a very similar approach as my mom, but also my sister is teaching me now so I will have mix of both because they have both impacted my life,” she said. “My mom is very straight-forward, honest and upfront in the classroom. I think that I will have a little bit of that, but my sister likes to have fun with her students and I think I will have a little bit of that as well.”
As far as keeping up with her academics, Engstrom said she only begins slacking if there is not enough work to do.
“I usually do better with getting my homework done when I am busy because I don’t have time to procrastinate,” she said. “I really like school and apart from my music life I really enjoy education and I try to take in as much as I can. I have a strict schedule so knowing that I have to get it done keeps me on track.”