Student Artist Spotlight: Music & Sociology Major Ariana Thoms

Photo Credit: Danielle Cruz

By Danielle Cruz

It was in the fifth grade that Ariana Thoms, a graduating music and sociology major at York College, was introduced to the flute.

Like most middle schoolers her music teacher made her choose between either learning to play the recorder or the flute, but unlike most of her classmates, she didn’t stop playing her flute after her schooling.  

“It was either I played the recorder or the flute so I turned to the shiny thing, it was that simple,” said Thoms. “I liked it immediately because it sounded more melodic to me than the recorder.”

For Thoms, music has always been a part of her life. Although she comes from a family that is more medical and science oriented, she grew up with music in her life.

“Yes, without me realizing it music was a big part of my life, my older brother is a singer and I have a lot of cousins who can play instruments as sing as well. I tried to do biology but that wasn’t working out so in the end I was like nah, so I told my mom that this is just not my life.”

Now Thoms can play the flute, piano and guitar. She may have learned to play the flute at first, but she says that the piano is her favorite instrument to play.

Butterfly Waltz by Brian Crain is a classic and one of Thoms’ favorite song to play on the piano as she says she feels as though the song’s soft melody is a personification of herself.

Butterfly Waltz was also the first song she played at her senior recital on Mar. 20.    

One of the requirements for a graduating music major is to put together their own recital. This means they are in charge of everything from choosing the members of their band to choosing the music and musical arrangements for their recital.

Thoms’ recital was held in the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center at York. She performed a total of eight songs with eight of her fellow York music majors: Daijha Rabalais on the violin, Leonna Prithwipaul on the bass, Jay Bratton on drums, and Bayo Fayemi and Adrian Sugrim on guitar.

“They were all friends I had made throughout the year, so it was easy to pick and choose who I wanted (to be apart of my recital),” said Thoms.

Besides playing Butterfly Waltz Thoms performed an interesting array of music for her recital. Thoms started off playing songs like 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman and Stand By Me by Ben E. King to ending her recital with Back in Black by ACDC

When asked about the music she choose to perform, Thoms said while the songs she played during her recital had some sort of meaning to her although they were not her first choice.

“At first I had picked different songs and it had been a lot of international music but I was like the music was too hard (to play),” said Thoms. “So I changed it and I decided to do these songs because I like the lyrics and I liked the music, but I also feel connected to them. Plus everyone already knew the songs so we had a lot of fun practicing.”


The recital was an intimate event with a small crowd placed on the stage in the performing center so they could be closer to the musicians. In attendance were also professors from the music department who showed up to support Thoms and praise her for the completion of her recital and major.  

Thomas Zlabinger, a music professor at York, said that he was extremely proud of the progress she has made throughout the years and how she had learned to come out of herself and express herself better through music.

“I remember when she auditioned for big band two years ago,” said Zlabinger. “She’s still a quiet person but you can imagine she was even quieter back then.”

Thoms has also recently started composing music. While she didn’t perform any of her original compositions at her recital, Thoms said ever since she took a course on music composition last semester she’s begun to compose regularly.  

“I just really started making music last semester,” said Thoms “So whatever comes to my head I’ll just either write it out or just play it out and if I hate it I’ll just say no… and if I like it I’m still going to say no because I’m picky.”

Along with a music degree, Thoms will also be graduating with a degree in sociology. While some may find this an odd combination of degrees to Thoms sociology and music go hand in hand.

“I chose sociology because I wanted to know how people react with each other in like a social setting either as a group or as an individual. I choose to get a music degree also because I just loved music in general and I felt connected to it,”  said Thoms. “Also sociology and music go hand in hand because when people talk to each other and interact with each other usually people start off with, ‘what is your favorite this or what’s your favorite that?’”

Thoms plans to use her dual degrees to become a music therapist at hospitals so she can interact with and calm down those who need her help. She said that she had discovered this profession randomly when looking up ways to use both her degrees and she knew instantly that this was what she wanted to pursue.  

“I was like, ‘if I’m doing music what can I do with it that fits me personality wise?’ I wanted to help people while also interacting with them either on a one-on-one setting because that’s how I feel comfortable interacting with people,” said Thoms.  “I am mostly a listener not a talker. So it actually worked out when I read up on it and I was like, ‘oh this is cool and this is something that I can see myself doing.’”

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