In 2015 Laurel Brooke of Floyd, a violinist, received the David S. Wiley Scholarship from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival. She then attended New River Community College for a year as a part-time student–not only to gain credits for general education, but also to continue studying with her teacher at the time, Benedict Goodfriend.

Brooke Laurel photo outdoors

By Chelsa Yoder Photography

During that year she set her sights on the University of Miami. She auditioned for, and was accepted into, the Frost School of Music to study under Charles Castleman. Laurel was able to use her scholarship from VBRMF to accept admission.

“This first year at music school,” writes Laurel, “has been exactly what I had hoped it would be.” Surrounded by hard-working, dedicated individuals who share her passion for music has been a privilege. “I have immersed myself in the musical world,” she adds, “and have found some lifelong friends while doing it.”

Currently she is taking music–theory, skills, essential technologies; business and entrepreneurship; and abnormal psychology. She also plays in the Frost Symphony Orchestra (three concerts a semester) and two small chamber ensembles (a string quartet and trio)––all while taking private lessons. Right now FSO is working towards its April 22nd program of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto.

With only five weeks left in her first year, Laurel has grown exponentially as a musician and as a person. “I love the diversity of a city—the different religions, languages, and cultures.” She has enjoyed branching out to try new things and meet new people. For example, she is a member of the University of Miami Ultimate Frisbee team. “The sport has brought me many friends and has so far taken me to Chicago, IL , and Austin, TX.”