by Shannon Gleba, Senior Writer
Freshman Alexandre Ikama has been playing the clarinet since he was young, and plans to continue pursuing mu- sic here at Manhattan College in the orchestra and jazz band. Ikama began playing the clarinet during the fourth grade when he decided to take after his sister, who had been play- ing the clarinet before.
“Well, you know, it was just like, my sister used to play it,” Ikama said. “And I wanted to be like my sister. So I just kept playing, and I became better than her, just kept playing and playing.”
Since that time in his child- hood, Ikama stuck with the in- strument and joined a number of different groups to master the clarinet. While he lives in Queens, his commitment brought him to Brooklyn to hone his skills.
“My school didn’t have a band,” Ikama said. “But I joined the All-City Orchestra band in Brooklyn during the school year, and during the summer, I would be a part of the Summer Arts Institute. So that’s the only way I was able to play because like my school didn’t really have a band.”
The Summer Arts Institute required Ikama to audition each year, but the hard work was worth it to him because it was also a social opportunity. “It was fun, I made new friends and all that,” said Ikama.
The audition process to be awarded a performing arts scholarship at MC was very similar to the auditions Ikama had in the past. However, because the auditions took place during the pandemic, he had to perform in a virtual setting.
“It wasn’t too crazy, it was normal, it was like a normal audition,” Ikama said. “I just came in, played my pieces and some scales. It didn’t feel weird. It was just that it was virtual so it was like, a little bit different.”
After earning the schol- arship, Ikama chose to be a part of both the Orchestra and the Jazz Band at the College, which are also now rehearsing virtually.
“It is completely different because the teacher can’t re- ally hear me because I have to mute myself,” said Ikama. “It’s like, it’s a little bit different because I’m not in like the crowd of people where I used to, or I’m usually used to.”
Although the group cannot hear one another when they perform, each member gets time with the orchestra leader after the group meets over Zoom.
“After the Zoom call, [the leader] comes with me individually to work on like, specific parts,” said Ikama. “So I don’t feel really excluded from it, even though I’m not I can’t be on campus during that.”
In respect to the jazz band, Ikama sees his involvement as a way to explore new genres that he never had the opportunity to before.
“There’s a lot of genres that haven’t really touched yet, specifically jazz,” said Ikama. “That’s why I picked it. I never really got into jazz, but I really want to try something different.”
While Ikama had to audi- tion after the pandemic took full effect, he was thankfully able to commit to Manhattan College before on-campus vis- its were cancelled.
“So, I went to an open house and went to a basketball game last year,” said Ikama. “I liked the campus and I decided I want to go here.”
Going forward, Ikama is not exactly sure what role music and the clarinet will play in his adult life. He is currently undecided in his major, but is not positive if music will be part of his career plan.
While Ikama may have some uncertainties in his future, there is one thing for sure –– Ikama is ready to come to campus, and to star t taking classes in a typical classroom environment.
“I think that’s what I want,” said Ikama. “I just want to be in person again. It feels better to learn in person.”