CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Being a musician takes a lot of work, time, dedication and discipline. High school student Daniel Rocha is working to make his dream a reality.
Since Rocha could remember his life revolved around music—he has been playing a variety of instruments since second grade.
He first learned how to play the piano, but he can also play the French horn. Rocha said he enjoys playing instruments in the string family and while he can also play guitar, his true passion is with the violin.
Recently Rocha performed at the 2023 Texas State Solo-Ensemble Contest where the University Interscholastic League (UIL) selected him as an outstanding performer.
“Music, like, without it I don’t feel like normal and I have been in periods where I just stop playing completely and it just feels like I am missing something from my life,” he said.
Out of nearly 100,000 students participating in the regional UIL music contests, only 2 to 3% of the solo performers earned the distinguished honor of being recognized as "Outstanding Performers."
But not only was he ranked in the highest category for the contest—he also got the opportunity to participate in the Juilliard Sphinx Program in New York City.
Only 26 high school musicians from around the nation are able to attend and learn one on one with the some of the best performers of all time.
Everything was completely free because Rocha is part of the the Corpus Christi Youth Orchestra.
“I feel really lucky because, yeah, it’s work, but of course you know, I don’t really mind it. I pick up the violin and it’s hard to put it back down,” Rocha said.
His instructor Dr. Jose Flores has been working with him since seventh grade and he said he is extremely proud of all of his accomplishments.
“It’s been a long journey, you know. When you mentor a young person, you know, it takes a lot of work to get them to do work," Flores said."But as he matured over the years, he’s been excelling in his musical successes.”
Rocha got to meet other musicians from around the United States, such as Miami, California, Georgia and more.
The Sphinx Performance Academy (SPA) is a full-scholarship intensive summer chamber music and solo performance program with a focus on cultural diversity for string musicians ages 11-17.
“Meeting the faculty there, really amazing talented musicians they were like graduates from Juilliard graduates from Curtis I got to receive instructions from them, like I said, it’s very intimate so it wasn’t like I got over looked at any time or anything. It was really personal," Rocha added.
He was exposed to the college experience and he is hoping to be able to get into UT Austin to be able to stay in state.
Flores said that a lot of the time the most challenging part for a musician is the struggle to not be able to pay to continue their education.
"There is always somebody who is going to help you, don't give up," Flores said.
Rocha is a senior at Miller High School with a 4.0 GPA. He is currently part of the school's marching band and even has his own rock band called Centapy.
Rocha would love to get into UT-Austin but if a bigger opportunity comes his way, he’ll take it.