Student Profile: Ana Molina
For Ana Molina, her musical calling came during her second semester studying medicine at a university in Ecuador. She had been having doubts about a career as a doctor, and one day in class, she had and epiphany of sorts.
"I just felt it wasn't for me, that I wanted to be a musician," she recalls. "Having been into music since I was 7 years old, I wanted to keep doing that. So I got up and left."
That day in class was a turning point for Molina, who initially figured she'd become a doctor and keep music as a hobby. "I had been thinking of changing my whole semester. I was thinking in class that I didn't see myself as a doctor even though I like medicine. I was thinking that music is my passion," says Molina, who as a child and teenager studied piano at a classical music conservatory in Ecuador.
But her parents were worried because in Ecuador, there is no music business, Molina says. "There's really a small musicians' community, which is starting to grow because of the music institute [Instituto de Música Contemporánia], but there are not many things you can do as a musician in Ecuador," she says.
Despite their concerns, her parents allowed her to attend the Instituto de Música Contemporánia [IMC] because it is part of a college that offers courses of study besides music. And after a year, as Molina studied music production and engineering, "they saw that music was my passion and that I was so happy with that."
Still, Molina found herself wanting more. While she liked IMC, she wanted to broaden her horizons and felt that she needed more resources to pursue a career in music production and engineering.
That's when Molina discovered that IMC is a partner school in the Berklee International Network (BIN). The network establishes mutually beneficial relationships between Berklee and institutions that have an educational commitment to the study of contemporary music. Molina was awarded a scholarship to Berklee and transferred in through BIN.
"BIN really prepares you to come here," she says. "You start your career in your country where you have all your family and friends' support; this way, for me, the change was not as hard as it would have been if I had come here and had to start from scratch."
And here at Berklee, Molina has incorporated her Latin roots. "I started a Latin program with the Berklee Internet Radio Network [the BIRN], 'Fiesta Latina,'" she says. "It features Latin music, everything except salsa and merengue. Because when you talk about Latin music, people mostly think about salsa and merengue. We wanted to show other styles: Latin rock and pop and funk, for example."
Molina says she has been pleased to see her culture embraced at Berklee. "It's really nice to see American students open to learning about different cultures and styles of music," she says. "And in my classes, if I want to produce something Latin, the teachers understand and enjoy that."
Meanwhile, she has enjoyed learning from the other myriad cultures here. "There are people from the United States. . . and international people with different musical backgrounds who have a different way of feeling the music," she says.
Indeed, coming to Berklee has expanded Molina's opportunities, she says. Instead of one teacher and one studio like at IMC, Berklee has many. "It's completely different here," she says. "You have so many options. The opportunities [to edit, record] are very good, so you can really practice. And the school is bigger so you have all these other students to work with."
While challenging, the MP&E major has met all of Molina's expectations and beyond. "Every teacher has something to offer you," she says, noting that the classes allow students to play the part of the engineer or producer, for example, and work with musicians, giving students a taste of the real world. "When you're the producer of the band, you are responsible for everything," she says, such as making sure the band shows up for the recording session and choosing which songs are good fits for the band. "When you are the engineer, you are serving the musicians and the producer. But you can also give some input on the sound. Maybe there is something that is not working and you can make it better."
Molina, who is also pursuing a major in music business/management, says she is keeping an open mind when it comes to what particular career she'll pursue. "There are so many things out there, on the music business side and on the MP&E side. You can work with video, multimedia, publishing, and producing bands or records. I'm really open."
Ana's Top Five Artists
- Jorge Drexler
- Maria Rita
- Imogen Heap