Freshman Oboist Finds ‘Big, Beautiful Community’ in UGA Music Program

Brenna Sexton is a first-year music major and one of two freshmen oboists in the University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra.

Q: Why did you want to become a music major?

Well, I always loved playing oboe and I loved all things music. Spring of my senior year I took AP Music Theory, and that was I think really the reason why because I just sort of fell in love with music theory itself and just how fun it was. I really enjoyed specifically understanding the mechanics of the music I was playing.

Q: What have you enjoyed about the music program so far?

There’s pros and cons, but I really enjoyed the community. Kind of coming in, I didn’t know many people at all. I really wanted a fresh start from high school. Because you’re taking classes with kind of the same group of people, you become friends pretty quickly. I’ve made some of my current best friends that way, and so I’ve loved the community, but I’ve also loved just how hard they push you. Instructor-wise you get that one-on-one with a really, really, really incredible instructor. It’s such a big, beautiful community, while I’m also growing as a musician. 

Q: What bands have you been a part of so far?

So I have been a part of the Wind Symphony, and that was last semester. I was first chair there and that was lovely. This semester I’m in the orchestra, which is our technical top ensemble.

Q: How does it feel being one of the only freshmen in the Symphony Orchestra?

It is very humbling. I feel a lot of imposter syndrome, I would say. Fear that I’m not, you know, good enough to be in that place. It also makes me feel good as a player, and it’s rewarding to see. I can’t, you know, hear a difference necessarily between how I played six months ago, but obviously there was one if I’ve grown this much, so it’s quite wonderful. I’m very appreciative and thankful.

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of moving from playing at the high school to the collegiate level?

What I’ve struggled with the most is the fear of not being able to keep up and wanting to keep up and do my part for my peers. You’re just one big team, and that has been a little bit more challenging because before, I think, in high school, I could slack off a little bit and nobody really knows because no one knows what good oboe sounds like in high school. But you come to college, and everyone is used to hearing good instruments, so you have to hold yourself to a higher level, and everyone else is holding you to a higher level and you are holding everyone else to a higher level.

Comments trimmed for length and clarity.

Mary Charles Johnson is a journalism major covering local music.



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