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Eighth Notes

Meet a Student: Lyric Rivera

Rivera is a second-year master's student studying with Cathy Payne.

February 22, 2024 by Alex Heigl

"I was predominantly raised by my grandmother, in Kingston, Tennessee. Population 6,000, maybe, 30 minutes outside of Knoxville. In fifth grade, you take a paper home and they're like, join band. And I said, 'I'm not doing that. I don't want to play an instrument.' And my grandmother said, 'You're going to play the flute.' Because she played the flute up through high school, and that's where it started for me.

I didn't have an interest, and then it clicked more and more. Obviously you get older and older and you get more serious and interested. But I didn't start private lessons until halfway through my freshman year of high school. Being from a small town, I didn't have the knowledge of, 'Oh, I should study with the principal flutist', so I found my teacher just through word of mouth. Growing up there was a little isolating; the music scene has dwindled in Knoxville to the Symphony there being about it.

I was in my school bands and the Knoxville Youth Symphony, as well as the Tennessee All-State Orchestra, but it wasn't until I got to go to Interlochen Arts Camp when I first got exposed to a lot of things. My high school band didn't even have a bassoon. Back then it felt like I was playing with a major symphony, because I was only used to my small town, and then I was suddenly playing with people from around the world.

I met my next private teacher there and she got me on the conservatory track. I hadn't even heard of one before that, I thought it had something to do with flowers. When I told my family I wanted to study music, some other members of my family ended up saying small things … But my grandma in particular, she's always wanted me to do what I want to do."