Practice makes it possible

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The old joke among New Yorkers is to answer “practice” whenever a tourist asks them how to get to Carnegie Hall, one of the most preeminent venues in the world for musical performance.

One Suffolk student knows about practice all too well, but it has surely gotten her there. Felicia Josey, 16, will perform at Carnegie Hall this week as part of the 2018 High School Honors Performance Series.

This young lady will get the chance to rehearse with master conductors and other accomplished high school students from across the country and around the world this week. She’s memorizing six choral songs, including two in Latin and one Macedonian folk song.

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The Nansemond River High School junior will be expected to know the songs when she arrives in New York — hence the practice.

But the practice clearly didn’t start with her selection for the performance. While Joleen Neighbours, NRHS director and Suffolk Public Schools fine arts facilitator, said Josey is very talented, talent has never gotten anyone anywhere without practice.

Musical performance has been a passion of Josey’s since she was younger. She had made All-District Chorus each year at Nansemond River and is an award-winning member of the school’s competitive theater team. She’s had leading roles in many of the school’s productions.

Like most who are truly motivated to excel, Josey prefers hard-to-learn music. We imagine she must really be enjoying the songs she is learning for the Carnegie Hall performance.

The origins of the Carnegie Hall joke are unclear. But just like the frazzled musician who delivers the deadpan punchline in one urban-legend rendition, many musical performers work their entire lives to make it to Carnegie Hall and still don’t.

Josey, on the other hand, has worked hard to be selected to this performance and earned her way into the rarefied air of folks who can say they have performed at Carnegie Hall.

We wish her safe travels, and we are certain she will represent Suffolk well. She and her parents and instructors have every right to be proud that she earned this opportunity — through lots and lots of practice.