Senior Brieanna Toedt is an accomplished singer and musician. In addition to being in Outlook and Oxfordians, KO’s select vocal ensembles, she is also a member of the orchestra and takes piano lessons in her spare time. Brie has had to overcome many challenges as a musician, but she has nevertheless continued to grow as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist.
Brie takes weekly classes for each of her instruments. In order to balance her academic workload, she participates in Musicianship as her fall sport, which gives her time to practice. Something Brie has learned is to take advantage of her weekends and free periods and communicate with teachers so they are aware of any extracurricular activities she has.
As a member of three ensembles at KO, she has certainly felt the changes the performing arts classes have made to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines. “Even though the conditions aren’t ideal, it is really nice to be back on campus making music,” Brie said. “I enjoy being able to hear everyone around me and the music they are making.”
Concert Choir Director Steve Mitchell is Brie’s voice teacher, and he helped her as she underwent a voice change from the lowest voice part, Alto 2, to the highest, Soprano 1. Brie has been taking voice lessons since she was six years old and is currently working on learning classical music, which involves singing in other languages, as well as Broadway music.
Inspired by her grandmother, Brie began taking violin lessons at the age of four. Her grandmother brought her to the UConn music department, where she discovered the violin and found her passion.
In her years playing the violin, Brie has encountered many challenges. In 4th-grade, she broke both of her arms, preventing her from playing the violin. After recovering, she was able to play for another year but then had to undergo surgery on her right arm. “I could still sing but I was really worn down by the pain and medication, and it was really hard to enjoy music without being able to perform it,” Brie said. Returning to the violin was a challenge because what she was able to learn and play were greatly limited due to her physical constraints. She is still continuing to explore her skills and figure out how she can improve while accommodating certain limitations.
Brie also plays in the Northern Regional Community Orchestra. Last spring, their concert was canceled due to COVID-19, but the director hopes to be able to return to in-person rehearsals soon and hold a concert in the winter.
Brie has most recently begun taking piano lessons. She had wanted to play the piano for a long time, and she finally managed to start the piano last fall. “When you’re playing the violin, you see the notes as a code for your fingers, you memorize that code, and you can play music,” she said. “For piano the ‘code’ is translated by two hands playing completely different things, which adds a layer of complexity.”
Brie thoroughly enjoys singing and playing the violin and piano and hopes to continue in the future. She has even made plans for the different ways she can get involved with music at college. “Whether on campus or in the surrounding town, I hope to continue my love for music through any means possible,” she said.