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World Mag > WM Winter 2017 edition > Interview with Ariel & Anissa Dominguez

Interview with Ariel & Anissa Dominguez

Sisters Ariel and Anissa Dominguez attended AISB between 2001 and 2006 and both ended up pursuing musical careers. Read about their passions in the interview below.
AISB Alumnae, Attended between 2001-2006
AISB Alumnae, Attended between 2001-2006

WM: Tell us a bit about yourselves.

Ariel: Ariel Dominguez, born in Reading, Pennsylvania. Moved from Annapolis, MD to Bucharest Romania in 2001 – 2006 (4th grade - 9th Grade). After moving back to Annapolis I graduated from Archbishop Spalding high school and received an athletic scholarship to attend Lenoir-Rhyne University. After 4 years I graduated with my bachelors degree in Graphic Design. Right now I live in Charlotte, North Carolina a city close to my college and I am a DJ/producer and part time Graphic Designer.

Anissa: In 2001, when I was in 3rd grade, my family moved to Romania because of my Dad's job. My family lived there and I attended AISB for 6 years. I moved back to the US in 2007 after I finished 8th grade. My sister, Ariel, and I, graduated from the same high school
and then attended University. I started my college career as a music education major at James Madison University, but after two years of studying that I failed my rst mandatory interview to continue with the major.

They asked me why I didn't study music therapy, and I had no answer because I didn't even know music therapy existed. JMU did not have a music therapy program so I ended up dropping out in 2013 and taking my time to nd a school that had the program I wanted. After I spent the summer and fall working in retail, I applied and got accepted into the Immaculata University Music Therapy program, where I started there in the spring of 2014. Music Therapy programs are intensive. We had to take guitar, piano, and voice lessons in addition to our course work. In total, music therapy majors were taking 9-12 classes a semester. In addition to that, I joined a sorority and started an American Sign Language club at Immaculata. After nishing the coursework, I was required to get 1200 hours of internship experience before graduating. After completing that, I graduated with a B.M. in music therapy.

Then I passed a 3 hour, 150 question exam to become a board certi ed music therapist. Now I am searching for my rst job as a certi ed music therapist. Currently I am working for a blind woman who is on the spectrum as a "job coach". I help her learn skills necessary for joining the workforce and provide adaptive piano lessons.

WM: What do you feel were some of the best things about your AISB education and experiences of living in Romania?

Ariel: Living in Romania changed my entire life. I was able to experience a completely di erent culture in a welcoming environment. At AISB I was able to meet, grow, and learn with students from all over the world, something that many people never get a chance to experience.

I appreciate the time I had traveling with teams and becoming friends with an insanely diverse group of people. The classes were small and intimate which I enjoyed. And I made lifelong friends that I still keep in touch with today. After moving back to the US, I realized how valuable my experiences were and how much they have shaped me into the person I am today.

Anissa: Growing up in Romania and attending AISB taught me about di erent cultures, helped me become open minded, and accepting of others.

As a therapist, I have to take cultures and people's di erent backgrounds into account. AISB de nitely helped me develop that skill at a young age.

WM: What are some of your favorite and most memorable AISB memories? How have the relationships built at AISB carried across time and space?

Ariel: I remember the school trips around different parts of Romania were beautiful. Visiting local farmers and camping beside rivers or mountains. I don't think I fully appreciated all of it until after the fact. After living in Romania, I fully appreciated the value of travel and experiencing other cultures. Many of the friendships I made at AISB have lasted years and will most likely last a lifetime. I still talk and meet up with many friends from AISB every chance I get even though many of them live far away from me. It's great to know that no matter how far the distance some of these people are still and will always be my best of friends.

Anissa: I remember International day at school being my favorite day every year! Seeing all the amazing things from di erent countries was always fun! It makes you realize how big the world is. My family was always the only Puerto Rican family there so we loved sharing food and knowledge about our culture. While I lived in Romania, I met my best friend at AISB. Her name is Bela Reeves, and we met in 6th grade. We spent a few years apart when I first moved, but Bela moved back a few years after me and we connected again.

We met up and hung out a few times in high school. By chance, or maybe fate, we ended up attending JMU together. To this day, we are as close as ever! We both attended each other’s graduation and hang out regularly. She is my most precious and longest lasting friendship and I would have never met her if we had not attended AISB together.

WM: How and when did you discover your passion for music? How did this passion transform speci cally into what you are doing now?

Ariel: I have always had a keen interest in music and arts. At AISB I joined the school band and was involved in as many music and arts programs as I could t. My sophomore year of college I studied abroad in London at East London University.

While studying there I was able to meet some very inspiring people involved in DJing and the music industry. After having the time of my life with these people, I decided to pursue DJing when I moved back to the US. That summer I taught myself how to DJ and started throwing my own parties just to get some exposure.

Long story short, I made enough noise to get big promoters in the city to ask me to DJ at larger venues, moved to Charlotte after I graduated, and have residencies at many places here now. I also started producing electronic music which I also have an interest in ever since living in Romania where at the time electronic music was booming.

Anissa: I remember begging my parents for piano lessons when I was a toddler. When we moved to Romania, a piano came with the house. It was there that I started piano lessons and soon after, I joined the school band playing the flute, thus starting my career as a musician in Romania. I remember almost quitting playing the ute at one point, but then a new band teacher came and he made me love music again. His name is Randy Wanless.

We are Facebook friends now! He helped me really nd my love and passion for music and if he had not been my teacher that year,
I probably would have quit. I always loved piano, but if I had not stayed playing the ute, I don't know if I would have continued with music. Playing ute had an important role in keeping my love for music alive because it was in band that I made friends who would encourage me and keep my passion alive.

WM: What have been some of the highlights of your musical careers thus far?

Ariel: Some highlights for me include providing support for Flux Pavilion, Dada Life, Thomas Jack, Dash Berlin, and Steve Aoki. I love traveling to different places to perform as well. Recently I’ve been to Atlanta and will be performing at the Imagine Music festival there this year.

Anissa: I have always been a stubborn person who enjoys proving people wrong. When I decided to become a music major in college, almost everyone told me I wasn't good enough.

I hadn't been taking private lessons and my skills were not what they needed to be. At a camp I attended,

I took piano lessons to learn a piece that I particularly enjoyed. The piano teacher told me I couldn't learn it and that it was too advanced for me.

Determined to prove him wrong, I took piano lessons at home with a different instructor, and at my recital, I played that piece and somehow that teacher was there. After the recital, he stopped me and complimented my playing. The same thing happened for my college auditions.

My flute teacher told me, when I started lessons, "I don't know if you will be able to pass the auditions, but I will help you". Within the year, I had surpassed other students in her studio and got into 3 out of 4 of the colleges I auditioned at! Piano was the same story.

I met a teacher just months before my audition and she told me that my chances were low, but she saw potential. I passed ALL of my auditions on piano! The satisfaction of proving all the people who doubted me wrong was the BEST feeling.

WM: What makes you happiest about your job? What do you enjoy the most about what you are doing?

Ariel: There's a moment when you are playing music, and working the crowd, that you feel a true connection with every single person in the room. It is hard to explain how awesome that moment is.

Making connections with so many people at once through music. It's a beautiful thing and DJing allows me to experience it for a living.

Anissa: The best part about being a music therapist is that I am actually changing
lives. After a good day at work, I go home feeling amazing! I enjoy my sessions and am proud of what I do. I play music, have fun everyday, and I use what I’ve been trained for to change lives.

I can't imagine a more fun and ful lling career.

WM: On the surface, your musical styles and directions could be considered to be very di erent. In your opinions and from a musical perspective, what do you think some key similarities are?

Ariel: Anissa has a classical background in music. She has studied and learned to play many di erent instruments and has always been musically inclined, which makes her a very talented musician. Although I was never classically trained like her and my main focus is electronic/dance music, I know for a fact we both take in uence from many di erent international styles. This makes us both more diverse and interesting musicians which I’m sure originated from our experiences abroad and at AISB.

Anissa: The speci c goals may be di erent, but generally we are doing very similar things. I am doing music therapy, but what Ariel does is Music Medicine.

Music medicine is when you are using music to improve the lives of yourself or others simply from the pure enjoyment
of music. Somehow, both of us ended up performing music as a profession.

WM: Have you ever considered the opportunity to work together? How do you think this experience would look and how do you feel it could enrich your practices?

Ariel: I've de nitely brought this up in conversation before and I hope with time we can work on something really cool together. I'll probably just make her work with me eventually (haha).

Anissa: Yes! We haven't done it yet, but we have talked about combining my piano skills with her mixing skills. If I came up with a piano jingle Ariel could use it and make her own original song with it. Ariel's skills could de nitely help me in my career. If I was working on making a CD for a client, Ariel could mix the song to make it more fun for them. There may be a lot of opportunities to collaborate in our futures.

WM: What advice would you o er current AISB students and alumni who might be considering a similar career?

Ariel: I never had a plan to be a DJ/producer, I think nowadays this type of career is glori ed a little too much. I just decided to do what I love and it's working out. If I wasn't doing it for the right reasons, none of it would have happened. I took many risks and practiced my butt o but it almost didn't feel like work because I loved it so much. It's so important to take risks because if you are not happy with your career what’s the point?

So basically, do what you LOVE and don't do it for anyone else but yourself.

Anissa: Anyone considering a music therapy career needs to understand that I am equally a musician and a therapist. It is a lot of hard work and the eld is often misunderstood.

So before jumping into the program, I'd recommend observing a board-certi ed music therapist rst! It's clinical and evidence based practice. And it can be exhausting if you are not mentally prepared.

WM: What are some immediate and long term goals that you are looking to accomplish?

Ariel: Immediate goals: releasing more original tunes

Long term goals: travel the world as a headlining artist. Spread the word of house / dance music. :)

Anissa: My immediate goal is to nd a good job as a music therapist! I have some places I'm looking at and more keep popping up. My long- term goals are plentiful. I would like to take classes and become uent in both Spanish and American Sign Language.

I would also like to become a certi ed interpreter and perform at concerts as an

ASL interpreter, and a tentative long term goal is to open my own private practice for music therapy. 

Read the entire WORLD Magazine Winter 2017 edition here.


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