Susan Kasanov (Silverstone) (1970) Guitar
When I was in middle school, a friend of mine played the guitar. Thinking that was very cool, I decided to start taking guitar lessons in the sixth grade. I never would have believed that learning to play the guitar would change my life. When I began my freshman year, at New Trier West High School, I went to the music department to inquire as to whether there was a Jazz Band for me to join. I really wanted to play my guitar in a band. It was there that I met Mr. Roger Mills. After listening to me play, he told me that I could join the Jazz Ensemble. I was so excited! I felt very special because I was the only girl in the Jazz Ensemble. At that time, it was rare for a girl to play in a Jazz Ensemble, yet alone play guitar. I had never been in a musical group before, so it turned out a truly wonderful experience to be play with other musicians and friends.
During my senior year, the Jazz Ensemble was selected to perform a tour throughout Mexico. It was the first of many tours that the band went on over the years. It was also the first international trip by any New Trier group. Mr. Mills was always encouraging and supportive, being a member of the Jazz Ensemble allowed me to gain self- confidence, which stayed with me since then. If I had not joined the Jazz Ensemble, my life certainly would have been very different. Mr. Mills gave me the opportunity to play, learn and appreciate music.
I also started playing the string bass in the school’s orchestra. The music department, at New Trier West, became my “home” for four years.
My years at New Trier West convinced me to study music in college. I was a Music Education Major at Illinois State University. After graduation I became the orchestra director in the Des Plaines schools and subsequently in the Deerfield schools.
I taught orchestra for 29 years. I also played in the Skokie Valley Symphony and the Highland Park Strings. I am now retired. I have two daughters, one who has made a career in music, and three grandchildren.