Ellie Houston

Ellie+Houston

hannah moran, reporter

One evening every month, freshman Ellie Houston heads to the fire station with her father to contra dance. One evening every week, Houston heads to the school to practice and perform with jazz band. Another evening every week, Houston meets up with a few friends to cover AWOLNATION in someone’s basement.

But every morning and evening of every day of every month, Houston breathes music.

“(I play) piano, trumpet, guitar, ukelele, melodica,” Houston said.

She showcases her trumpet prowess in jazz band.

“It’s kind of a big responsibility because you’re like the only person on your part so you really have to pull your weight,” Houston said.

After joining All City band as a seventh grader and jazz band as a freshman, marching band is the next logical step for Houston.

“Marching band’s been like, a nerdy little excitement,” she said. “I think I’m gonna learn tuba, just for fun.”

After shedding the all-black-attire she’s required to wear for Jazz Band, Houston enjoys playing music in a less formal setting. Houston mostly plays by herself, but occasionally she will meet with Critter Toalson, Nat Hoopes and Nick Popiel to cover songs in someone’s basement.

“With the group, um, it’s really fun to play Sail by AWOLNATION,” she said. “And then alone … this is tough … pretty much anything by Of Monsters and Men …”

Her group of friends hasn’t written anything yet, but perhaps in the future expect to hear some electric, quasi-indie, folky music coming from the quintet.

Houston’s voice is also as mellifluous as any instrument.

She has spent a portion of every summer since eighth grade fine-tuning her voice and touring with a New England based program called “Village Harmony.” Roughly 25 students travel to the East Coast where they rehearse for a week, then spend two weeks touring and performing.

“It’s a choir sort of, but we sing like, world music so it’s like different languages and a lot of folk music,” Houston said. “… all the people there love music and so it kind of opened up a whole different world of experiences.”

Houston found out about the program through a woman at a contra dance camp she attended. Last summer, Houston attended two sessions at Village Harmony, spending six straight weeks touring New England and Canada. This summer, she’s prepared to handle just one.

Houston hopes that her dedication to fine arts endeavors will eventually translate into a career.

“ I’d love to perform as a career,” she said. “I’d be happy with like, teaching, or doing some sort of music therapy, anything that has to do with music, like production, directing–anything, just like, around that category.

Influenced by indie-pop singer Sara Bareilles, Houston knows exactly how she’d handle performances.

“I would love to like, talk to people onstage and be super chill and play music like very, friendly,” Houston said.

As a seventh grader, Houston saw Bareilles at Liberty Hall and was inspired by her stage presence.

“… She quoted Anchorman, which I thought was funny,” she said. “Somebody complimented her on her outfit and she was like, ‘I got my vest at Target!’ and I was like, ‘I shop at Target!’”

Houston began writing music this year, finishing one or two songs so far. She is on track to reach her goal: complete a selection of songs by the next year.

“I just need to get, not ‘proper equipment,’” she said, “but just like, a microphone to make it sound like I’m not recording on my Mom’s Mac, which I am.”
Dancing, singing, playing instruments–Ellie Houston’s trifecta will grace the school for the next three years.