Perfect Pitch

NASH senior Vaishnavee Sundararaman plans to follow her voice to UT Austin, where she’ll major in Music Studies.

Kara Mihm, Co-Editor-in-Chief

When did your passion for music begin?

It started when my sister started taking Carnatic music lessons, and I would always want to see something from her music book.  My parents noticed this and enrolled me in music classes.  It really gave me much more control in anything I did.

When did you realize that you have perfect pitch? Does it run in your family?

My family always knew I had it ever since I started learning South Indian classical Carnatic Music at five years old.  When I was in group lessons, and someone sang out of tune, my parents would tell me that I would turn around and try to figure out who it was. I realized it myself at around 10 when I started to learn Carnatic music privately and take chorus in 4th grade. I got it confirmed in Freshman year during chorus class with Mr. and Mrs. Pontiere.  I’m the only person in my family that has it–which I think is crazy!

How often are you practicing music?

I practice as much as I can. Since I take two choir classes every day and was in the musical for over two months, that helped me keep singing every day.

Who is your main inspiration when it comes to singing?

I have lots of inspiration. In Carnatic music, the two artists that really inspire me are the sister duo Ranjani & Gayathri and an older artist MS Subbalakshmi. I love these two artists because they can move the audience and give us a story through what they are singing . A pop singer that inspires me a lot is Beyoncé because of how powerful and angelic her voice is. Her wide range and flawless riffs and runs are things I absolutely love about her. I always get inspiration from her when I like to improvise for solos or just any song. I am also inspired by Mr. Schmiech, Mrs. Pointiere, and my voice teacher from India– Shri TP Chakrapani.

What is PMEA and how did you get admitted into the program?

PMEA stands for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. It is a program where high schools chorus students, grades 10-12, audition from all over Pennsylvania to participate in a choir and have a fantastic experience with a college choral conductor. If it wasn’t for COVID, you would usually have two songs to learn and go to a school to blindly audition–meaning the judges don’t see you at all– to get a spot in the District level with about 20 other people in your voice part. If you make it into the District chorus, you will get 5 more pieces and the 2 you had to learn for the audition for the District level. After that, you would audition with one of those songs in order to be accepted into the Regional level at the District festival and be one of 14 people in each voice part. If you are one of those 14, you will get another set of challenging music to learn for the Regional level and audition on that same music for states to get selected with six other people from your voice part. This year, we had to send videos through a website called Submittable. The directors in PMEA would give us an excerpt of a piece for us to record and submit by a very specific deadline, and the judges would watch our videos to select us for each level.

Do you write any music?

Actually, I don’t.  But, I love making arrangements, fun soundtracks, and instrumental melodies.

Do you play any instruments? If so, which ones?

I do. I used to learn piano for almost eight years but don’t right now.  I also started learning the South Indian classical Instrument called the veena about three to five years ago.

Where do you plan to pursue your music endeavors?

I am going to UT Austin to major in Music Studies with a Choral emphasis. It’s the same as music education, but they just call it music studies. I really wanted to go into teaching because I have always wanted to do something with helping people and I love working with children. When combined with my passion for music, it works out so well that I can still continue what I love to do and pass the knowledge I have gained throughout the years to the next generations. Other than that, I will probably keep on giving private lessons to young children and hopefully make them great singers one day.

If you could trade lives with a famous singer, who would it be?

I think I would love to live Ariana Grande’s life because I would love to see what she does to keep herself healthy and fit. It would also be really cool to see where she records all of her songs and learn how to do her signature ponytail.

So far, what is your fondest memory of high school?

It would definitely be the last show of the musical a couple of weeks ago because it was such an emotional day for all of the seniors and I felt very proud of myself when I took that final bow with the rest of the cast. All the countless hours I put in along with the cast to prepare the show paid off, and I will never forget that experience for my entire life.

What fictional character would you be best friends with?

That’s hard. I would probably want to be BFFs with Mirabel from Encanto because she is so outgoing, hilarious, and has a similar singing voice to me. I feel like we would both jive really well. It would also be cool to go to the casita and meet her family.

If you had to get a tattoo right now, what would you get?

If I was forced to, I would probably get a very inspirational quote from someone famous because those words would be on me forever.