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Humans of Harker: Symphonic storytelling

Hita Thota brings the abstract to life
In+a+way%2C+music+is+a+second+language+for+me.+When+I+sit+down+at+the+piano%2C+or+when+I%E2%80%99m+performing%2C+I+get+a+sense+of+comfort%2C+because+at+that+moment%2C+I+don%E2%80%99t+need+to+do+anything.+The+music+does+it+for+me%2C+and+that%E2%80%99s+what+makes+it+all+worth+it%2C+Hita+Thota+%2812%29+said.
Hima Thota
“In a way, music is a second language for me. When I sit down at the piano, or when I’m performing, I get a sense of comfort, because at that moment, I don’t need to do anything. The music does it for me, and that’s what makes it all worth it,” Hita Thota (12) said.

Taking a deep breath in, Hita Thota (12) trains her eyes on the black and white music sheet in front of her and focuses on the first note. Closing her eyes, she begins to guide the violin bow across the taut strings of her violin: the opening lines project towards the line of students filing into Manzanita Hall. At first, she feels timid, but the music soothes her fears and she closes her eyes, relishing the feeling of creating music. 

Hita recalls her experience busking with her violin in front of Manzanita Hall to raise money for Ukraine last year. Since starting to play the piano and violin in first grade, she often uses music as an outlet to express her opinions and emotions connected to various subjects. Through music, Hita can convey herself in ways sometimes words cannot.

“Part of it is being able to [be in] touch the audience with what you’re doing,” Hita said. “It’s not enough to be on stage just playing, you need to be able to impact the [audience]. And a part of that involves the musician opening up and making the audience feel the piece the way [they] feel it.” 

After so many years of interacting with music, many of Hita’s connections with others stem from the musical aspect of her life. Younger sister Hima Thota (10), who plays the cello, often perform duets with Hita both for simple enjoyment and in competitions. Through accompanying each other, they strengthen their bond.

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“Music allows me to spend more time with my sister, which I really treasure,” Hima said. “It’s a really wonderful experience, whenever we’re able to be on stage together performing a piece.” 

Linking together music and media, Hita takes inspiration from the soundtracks of her favorite movies and television shows as well. Connecting the onscreen scenes to the notes on a piano allows her to transfer her musical talent to her other interests. Close friend and fellow violinist Katelyn Abellera (12) admires Hita’s ability to seamlessly transition between the auditory realm to visual imagery.

“Hita will pick some sort of movie theme or some theme from a show and then she’ll be able to adapt that into piano really quickly,” Katelyn said. 

On stage in front of large crowds, Hita finds comfort in the atmosphere. She lets go of the audience and focuses only on her music and the instrument responding to her movements. 

“To some extent, being onstage means that you exist in a bubble during your performance,” Hita said. “You can’t let yourself be impacted by your surroundings.”

Her collected attitude translates to duet performances as well, where performers need complete trust in each other to produce a harmonious piece. With confidence, a duet becomes a seamless combination of two instruments. Katelyn recalls Hita’s calming presence as a duet partner during a conservatory performance. 

“During the performance, I looked over at her and I could see that she was with me and [that] I wasn’t alone,” she said. “I could rely on her because she was keeping the beat, and I could relax.”

Similar to how she connects her music pieces to media, Hita uses literature and art as outlets for her thoughts. She especially enjoys engaging with books to form connections with unique characters and with digital illustrations to bring these characters to life. Upper school English department chair Dr. Pauline Paskali values Hita’s enthusiasm for literature.  

“It’s rare to find somebody who really loves books and responds to books and to characters as if they’re real people,” Dr. Paskali said. “Hita feels the characters and appreciates learning about the experiences of people through these characters.” 

Music exhibits emotions just as well as words do, and as someone who feels comfortable in expressing her thoughts and feelings nonverbally, Hita often takes advantage of her musical talent to communicate. The ease by which she can speak through her instruments calms her. 

“In a way, music is a second language for me,” Hita said. “I can be awkward at times, but when I sit down at the piano, or when I’m working on some piece or performing, I get a sense of comfort, because at that moment, I don’t need to do anything. The music does it for me, and that’s what makes it all worth it.”

This story was originally published on Harker Aquila on May 18, 2023.