Besa Carney performs her art through multiple musical outlets and programs



PRACTICING AT THE PARK: freshman Besa Carney plucks notes on her acoustic guitar. Carney has been playing guitar for over 11 years.

Isabella del Nido, Arts/Graphics Editor

As she peers into the crowd, freshman Besa Carney ponders the next strum of her guitar.

On stage, she prepares herself as she perfectly places each finger feeling the strings, blinded by the spotlights, and the crowd anticipates her acoustic performance. For over 11 years, Carney has trained for this exact moment.

Working with private music instructor Graham Reynolds for the past three years, Carney believes her skills have expanded and she has since become a more experienced performer.

“I’ve been making music before I knew I could actually make music,” Carney said. “Working with Graham Reynolds has helped me to expand my music knowledge; Graham is a Grammy Award nominee and he has written for movies and soundtracks like the ‘Last Flag Flying,’ starring Steve Carell and ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette.’” Along with Reynolds, Carney facilitates her skills by practicing with multiple different advisors. Although she participates in the Bowie music programs, Carney leans towards more independent instruction. Pianist Roger Chenu, one of her instructors, owns his own piano studio dedicated to helping people of all ages hone their skills.

“I have studied piano, theory, harmony, composition, choir and orchestra conducting and have been performer, composer, conductor, teacher and director of a National Music Conservatory near Paris, France,” Chenu said. “When we came to the states, I decided to open a piano studio; I have been doing group music classes for toddlers; young children, and private lessons for students and adults, and I teach music because I love it.”

When it comes to teaching Carney, her instructors believe that having a positive relationship with students is as important as how often you practice with them. Chenu works with Carney just once a week but has been teaching her for the past 11 years.

“The teaching changes with the age and the evolution of the student,” Chenu said. “Besa is a wonderful student, very gifted. She has music in her and I simply help her to discover it, through music scores, which are like road maps which help you discover the beauty of the world, and you have to learn how to read them to discover the feelings and soul of the composer who has written this music, and that will help you to understand yourself and others.”

Taking part in multi-disciplinary instructions, Carney is also a part of the ACG Youth Orchestra. But when it comes to what she does outside of practice, Carney gives insight to what it really looks like to be a musician.

“In my free time I always write something that’s in my mind,” Carney said. “I found out soon enough that it’s hard to balance school and music, so I decided to take piano and guitar here at Bowie and it’s been super fun.”

As a freshman, Carney participated in school state competitions to showcase her music skills.

“I competed for UIL city/state in Piano and I did regions in Austin,” Carney said.  ‘I won first in both city/state competitions, and I got sixth chair in the state for the TMEA State competition.”

According to Carney’s mother, Aida Likaj-Swierk,  competitions are no easy feat. One of Carney’s first competitions was for Bowie, but while she was in an honorable position, her mother believes she was surrounded by those who were top performers.

“I’ve been to many competitions and they’re all very nerve wracking but fun and very humbling,” Carney said. “I know to expect that there will always be people there that are better and worse than me.

Growing up with music helped Carney to cultivate her love as well as her skills at home, according to Likaj-Swierk.

“Until a few years ago I was the nagger to remind her to practice, but not anymore,’’ Likaj-Swierk said. “Not only is she grown up and mature now, but she loves it and I don’t have to budge on what and how she does it when it comes to music.”

Music can be a form of expression for many students, according to Carney, who claims she goes the extra mile. She believes her love for music is a form of communication, especially when she creates her own music that speaks to her.

“It came naturally to her and she wanted to express her feelings.” Likaj-Swierk said. “She just wanted to have fun with testing different ideas in piano and/or software that she uses. I think Besa speaks better in notes than in words.”

With support from her family, friends, and mentors, Chenu believes that Carney will have the opportunity to  reach her full potential.

“I am just a guide to help Besa in her musical travels,” Chenu said. “Besa loves music, loves to practice, and I think that practicing for her is a joy. She follows directions and we communicate through our mutual love of music. I know that music will always be part of her life, in a way or other. She will find it.”