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It is often said that musicians run in the same circles, and alumnus James Land has found that to be very true – especially when it comes to AYWS.

“I remember being a senior in high school and visiting colleges for the following fall,” James reminisces. “At every college I visited, I met at least one former member of AYWS who was attending the college.”

And that sense of connectivity still continues today. “Although I no longer live in the Atlanta area, I still often cross paths with many former members of AYWS at a variety of conferences and musical performances,” he says. “I am still close friends with many of them to this day.”

For him, the friendships he formed in the ensemble – and the opportunities he had to learn from his peers – were invaluable. Through his fellow musicians, James found comfort, camaraderie and helpful audition tips throughout the stressful college audition process.

“Being a member of AYWS had a profound impact on my life, and ultimately my decision to pursue a career in music,” says James, who is an adjunct professor of tuba and euphonium at Belmont University. “It was overall such a positive environment to be in and it prepared me for college [at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music] in many ways.”

“I hope that young musicians in the Atlanta area can have the same opportunities as a result of AYWS that I had,” says James, acknowledging the important role that music plays in the lives of student musicians. “It is such a great organization that fosters an environment for young people to come together, share ideas, and excel – both in music and many other aspects of their lives.”