Name: Maia Foley
Category: Concert Percussion
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Hey, I’m Maia! I’m a high school sophomore and classical percussion student from Boston.
I began playing percussion when I was five years old in my elementary school’s band when I was sitting outside the music room listening to my brother’s rehearsal and my music teacher at the time came into the hallway looking for her five percussionists who hadn’t yet shown up. She came to me, five years too young for the group and with no playing experience, and invited me to join the band as a replacement percussionist (not knowing that she would change my life forever).
From that moment forward, I knew that I was meant for music. I took to timpani as soon as I was allowed to start taking private lessons in the fourth grade, eventually playing timpani for three years of the Massachusetts Eastern Junior Districts Festival in the Concert Band. In eighth grade, I brought my craving to play to the New England Conservatory and spent two years in the Jr Mass. Youth Wind Ensemble before touring with the Senior MYWE ensemble. I’m currently a percussionist in Senior MYWE and the top orchestra, Youth Philharmonic (under the direction of one of the NEC college’s incredible conductors) and Youth Rep. Orchestra on cello. Between percussion, cello and voice, I participate in twelve hours of NEC programming every weekend; combined with my school ensembles, in-school practice blocks and other lessons, I spend…*
Despite how amazingly lucky and privileged I’ve been to have all of these incredible opportunities, I still have a fair deal of battles to fight. One of these is with my public high school about being able to practice as much as I need to to keep up with my ensembles, given that they aren’t too fond of my needing constant exceptions to get into the band room. Another is in trying to juggle my academia, three full-time instruments and two internships (98% of which is fueled on caffeine rather than actual rest— not enough hours in a day!!). Lastly, I have to compete against slews of boys that are physically larger and stronger than I probably ever will be, fighting off their constant jeers and hollers that I should go back to playing cello where I’m less likely to get hurt and that only the pretty girls get chosen to play the good parts. I’ve encountered from my own colleagues and well-meaning instructors that they think my chances of making it as a performer are limited because number of actual paying jobs available in the field of classical percussion, particularly timpani, is small enough as it is and going into performance would severely limit my options in the future, encouraging me to stop practicing and escape while I still can to a land of “teaching middle school english or, y’know, something you can actually handle.”
If there’s one thing I want to do in my life, though, it’s to prove that not only can I do what the rest of the world thinks I’ll fail miserably at, but I’ll thrive in it… and that I can do it in heels.
*…It’s an absurd number and, to protect the eyes of the innocent, I’d rather not share. Simply put, I play far more than I sleep.