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Sophomore Nikki Orrick shares her music with Redwood community

Picking up an instrument is easy when there is someone else willing to teach you, and the beautiful chords of the ukulele can bring together just about anyone. Sophomore Nikki Orrick uses her inspiration from watching Hannah Montana performances on TV as a child to create music of her own and share it with others.  

According to Orrick, music has always been a part of her life and she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t connected to it. According to Orrick, her father, Murray Orrick, is a musician and producer who is responsible for the musician she is today. Her father isn’t well known, but he has played in local bands, according to Orrick. He wanted her and her siblings to be exposed to music and have the chance to play at a young age. As early as preschool, Orrick’s father came into her classroom to perform for her classmates and often encouraged them to listen to a variety of musicians.

Orrick with a big smile on her face, playing ukulele next to Senior Violet Loo
Orrick with a big smile on her face, playing ukulele next to Senior Violet Loo

“I was exposed to music very early on. I remember being exposed to bands such as the Beatles and Greenday,” Orrick said. 

Music is something that bring’s Orrick’s family together. Orrick, her sister, and her father have a tradition of performing at Stinson Beach in front of their family every Thanksgiving.

“It’s fun because no matter how old you are or how much experience you have, music is something that everyone can relate to,” Orrick said.

Orrick finds it enjoyable when different people from different generations are able to come together and play music. According to Orrick, she has bonded with her older sister Ally through music over the years and also loves playing music with her father, who built a recording studio inside of their garage about six years ago to produce music. So far, Orrick said she has created three songs in the studio with her father’s help.

Currently, Orrick isn’t involved in music at Redwood, but is a part of a band outside of school that practices every Wednesday, hence the band name, When on Wednesdays. She is a lead singer in the band, and sometimes plays the guitar, ukulele or piano. She also posts music on Soundcloud and Instagram with usernames of nikster-123 and @nick.nooodle.

According to Orrick, she loves to perform and once the fear factor is gone, she no longer feels nervous. When on Wednesdays has played at Larkspur Landing, and Orrick has also performed at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley on open mic night. When on Wednesdays is planning on playing at the Winterfest this year, a popular winter festival that has locations all over the United States.

Most importantly, Orrick said music is something that inspires her on a deeper level. Whenever she is stressed, she plays music to calm down.

“Music is an outlet for me where I can get out all of my emotions,” Orrick said.

Orrick’s enthusiasm for music was bound to spread. According to Todd Van Peursem, her spirit for music is contagious. Last year, she was in teacher Van Peursem’s Spanish class and decided to bring a ukulele to class one day because she had used it in her previous drama class for a skit. He saw her playing and asked her to teach him how to play. From that day forward, she has taught him easy chords that quickly turned into songs.

Orrick teaching Sophomore friend Maddie Lobekka
Orrick teaching Sophomore friend Maddie Lobekka

Since Orrick no longer has Van Peursem as a teacher, she plays with him during SMART periods and breaks. Many other students join in and bring instruments of their own such as guitars, ukuleles and saxophones, according to Orrick. So far, she has taught him some basic songs such as “Riptide” by Vance Joy, and “Havana” by Camilla Cabello.

“I love teaching him because it has brought a strong connection between us. Even though I am not in his class anymore, I am still able to spend time with him,” Orrick said.

Orrick is planning on attending the school trip to Costa Rica this spring break with Van Peursem and is looking forward to playing ukulele with him there.

According to Van Peursem, he appreciates Orrick teaching him more than she is aware of. The music that she teaches him is used to teach his own two daughters.

“Since music was always played in my house as a kid, I want my girls to experience the same thing. I want to be able to sing and play music for my kids. I want to be able to perform at my daughter’s wedding someday,” Van Peursem said.

According to Van Peursem, building a connection through music with students needs to happen more often. He encourages anyone who is at all interested in playing music to start now.

Spanish Teacher Van Peursem learning from his students
Van Peursem learning from students

“Music is the universal language. It’s there when you’re feeling happy, and when you’re feeling low,” Van Peursem said.

Orrick said she is looking forward to playing with Van Peursem throughout her years at Redwood, and further connecting their teacher-student bond. According to Van Peursem, music is a unifier.

“Music can leap cultural boundaries,” Van Peursem said.

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About the Contributor
Emma Carpenter
Emma Carpenter, Former Staff
Emma Carpenter is a Senior at Redwood High School, and a reporter for the Redwood Bark. She rows for Marin Rowing and has four cats.