(DAYNA NGUYEN / EYE OF THE TIGER)
Alesandra Cariaga casually strums a guitar, years of experience visible in the movement, and the hum of a single warm-up note follows. The blinking red camera light looks back at the performance.
Cariaga has been playing for an invisible audience since freshman year. Now a sophomore, once her performances – ranging from a simple song to a full ensemble comprised of a guitar, a friend, and some memorized lyrics – end, Cariaga expects neither roaring applause, nor shouts for an encore. Instead, her friends and fans ply her with likes and positive comments on the few social media she has dedicated to her musical talents.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” Cariaga said. “I didn’t know what people would feel about it [but] I think I’m more open to the public eye now that I’ve finally crossed that line.”
Once, Cariaga would have hesitated to share her music with anyone at all. Her first awkward attempt at songwriting was a result of an eleven year old’s ambition, and was written in the span of only ten minutes.
The song — which initially began as a poem — was Cariaga’s first departure from her classic writing roots.
“When you write poetry, when it has a lot of rhythm to it, you kind of feel the music come out,” Cariaga said. “I’m definitely not proud of it, but it lead me to where I am today [and] it kinda paved the way for the rest of the songs that I would write.”
Violet LaMoure, a friend of Cariaga’s, was one of the first people Cariaga went to when she felt she needed advice to develop her songwriting skills.
Now, she continues to reach out to LaMoure if she ever feels at a loss.
“We’ll ask each other for advice and constructive criticism,” LaMoure said. “Sometimes if she’s struggling to find the right tempo or the right word for a certain verse, she’ll come to us.”
LaMoure believes Cariaga finds it simple to share songs with her close friends, as they all share a passion for music.
“We want to make each other happy and if it’s [through] something that makes all of us happy, why not share that with each other?” LaMoure said.
Cariaga’s social media presence and musical family background further encouraged her to put herself out there and pursue her own interests.
“Music is passed down through my family. It’s not really pursued but it’s passed down as a hobby,” Cariaga said. “I think it’s definitely made me more in-tune to music.”
Unlike songwriting, Cariaga has felt unafraid to sing openly for a long time now. Her yearning to become a performer began in elementary school, when she participated in a few school plays. Later, she found herself using her voice to perform in the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and RHS’ 30 Reasons Why Not To Be In A Play.
The friends she made during that time encouraged Cariaga to continue songwriting and explore her musical talents.
Sophomore Kyra Burbidge and Cariaga were both cast members in 30 Reasons Not To Be in A Play.
Like Cariaga, Burbidge began songwriting as a sixth grader, so she is also familiar with the pitfalls a songwriter may face.
“I started talking to her more about her writing songs…I’ll usually comment something really nice and if there’s something in her original songs I’ll ask her how she did it or how long it took,” Burbidge said.
For Burbidge, Cariaga’s songs are an opportunity to expand her singing ability and learn from a fellow artist.
“I love her voice, so I listen to [her songs],” Burbidge said. “[And then] I listen to [her songs] again and listen to certain techniques that she does, and then I’ll try to practice doing the same.”