Pianist Paves Way for Her Future


By Carolynn Gonzalez

Fingertips graze white ivory keys, playing the notes written hundreds of years ago. The piano resonates throughout the house, creating beautiful sounds for her family to hear. In front of the piano is where senior Zoe Willott spends her free time, practicing the audition music that holds her future.

Zoe began playing piano when she was eight, going from simple songs to Beethoven’s pieces in only 10 years. As her interest in music grew, she also learned to play the saxophone and is currently Knightpride Marching Band’s drum major.

“At a birthday party, people were playing ‘Ode to Joy’ on a piano and I played it back without music,” Willott said, explaining what sparked her interest in piano and music. “I asked for lessons for my birthday.”

According to Steve Willott, Zoe’s father, Zoe has always been hardworking, practicing for hours at a time before doing anything else that day.

“Shortly after she started taking lessons, she broke her wrist while ice skating but continued to practice with one hand,” Steve said. “She still got a medal in [a piano] competition that next summer.”

Though she is still growing as a musician, Zoe has many accomplishments, from playing with college students, to earning multiple I ratings at the state level. According to Zoe’s piano teacher of four years, Alla Voskoboynikova, the Director of Keyboard Studies at University of Missouri-Saint Louis, Zoe is very self-motivated, shows good consistency in practice habits and displays great dedication toward music.

“Even for talented musicians, if they lack motivation, they won’t progress,” Voskoboynikova said.

Zoe describes piano as a stress reliever that pushes her. Studying it has taught her self-responsibility and discipline, qualities that Steve claims have transferred to school. Her playing is defined by others as mature, expressive and lyrical.

“She’s able to give her audience a vivid experience when she plays,” senior Daycia Cameron, Zoe’s friend, said.

Zoe’s friends, family and piano teacher are all very supportive of her decision to study music in college. Studying music improves attention to detail and other qualities that can be applied to life. Although a profession in music was not originally Zoe’s plan, with encouragement from Voskoboynikova, Zoe took it into consideration.

“Nothing else interested me as much as music to make a career out of it,” Zoe said. “I enjoy it too, which is important.”

Zoe is considering five schools in which she will study music. Along with her application, Zoe has to include an audition for each school in order to be accepted. There are different audition requirements for each school and she must learn and master six pieces by January, describing the process of preparing them as tedious. Zoe is still unsure of what career will become her own, though she knows she will continue to play and perform no matter what. A bright future lies ahead for the senior, where a great pianist hopes to become even better.

“I would be happy playing piano for the rest of my life even if I didn’t make a lot of money,” Zoe said.