Hello CMPI community! My name is Kevin Reyes, a 17-year-old percussionist from the Gage Park area of Chicago on the southside. I am currently a senior at Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville. And before you say anything, no, we don’t run three miles and do 100 pushups every day at five in the morning. My school is just like every other school, just that we wear the U.S. Army uniform and adhere to the AR 670-1, which is an article in which all the grooming and dressing standards are located at. We also have a military culture there, and it is a student-led academy, with me being the 4th in command of the entire school.
My favorite class is obviously band, and with that, I can say that I’ve been, well, hitting things since the age of five. I started drum set at just the age of five, and my very first performance was at a church in front of more than 300 people. How nerve-wracking was that! I was also five so you can only imagine all the nerves going through my head. I started studying percussion at a professional level at the age of nine when I applied to the Percussion Scholarship Program. I have two amazing teachers who have contributed and aided to my success as a musician, Patricia Dash and Douglas Waddell. To this date, I still remain a member of that program, and I will graduate from the program in 2023.
I can say so far that my resume is pretty lengthy for a 17-year-old: back-to-back acceptances to the National Youth Orchestra (NYO2), a teacher and mentor to young kids in the P!NG Pal’s program, a piano teacher, the opportunity to play on national radio on NPR’s From the Top show after winning the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship award – worth $10,000 and a little extra on top because I was liked by the panel. The list goes on, and I have all these adults, parents, teachers, navigators, counselors, and CMPI to thank!
Oh, and yes, you did hear that right, I am a piano teacher and teach lessons on the side. I am a multiple-instrument guy, and I play percussion, piano, guitar, bass, violin, mandolin, saxophone, trumpet, and flute. For some, I thank YouTube and my good ear for the help, as I was self-taught on most of those instruments.
When I’m not playing or practicing on my instruments, you’ll find me in the gym. I love lifting weights and exercising during my downtime. It not only gives me the opportunity to get jacked, but it is also stress relief, therapy in a way that allows me to isolate myself from the world and focus on myself. If I’m not in the gym, I’m on the soccer field blocking shots on goal. I play goalkeeper on my school’s soccer team. It was the first season in our school’s history that we had a soccer team, and I’m proud to say that I was one of the advocates that pushed for the creation of the team. I was my team’s captain and we not only made history in our school but also in the city. We went 7-3 and made state playoffs, and we were also the first open-division team in the history of Chicago to make it to Phase II of the city bracket playoffs. And even though we were first-round exits in the state playoffs, we were amazed by how far we came in our very first season. My first and last season: amazing.
Photos Provided by Kevin