Asa Meyer-Waldo’s story may be familiar to some students at the University of Southern Maine. As a gifted musician coming out of high school, Asa had his choice between many colleges—but he also had to face some hard questions about how much debt he was willing to take on in order to attend any of them. He decided to stay in state and go to the University of Southern Maine, and initially, he was frustrated that his options were hampered for financial reasons. Soon enough, however, he realized that USM was the best place for him, and he was exactly where he needed to be.
“I was fortunate enough to have been asked to cover a few performances this past summer with the Osher Faculty Jazz Ensemble that my teacher, Bronek Suchanek, was unable to do,” Asa told us. “At the last gig we were asked to talk a bit about our experiences, and I recounted that at USM I’ve been able to develop meaningful relationships with my professors that likely wouldn’t have been possible if I went to a big-name conservatory. These relationships have become a really integral part of my growth as a musician and as a person, and it just so happened that these relationships came out of my time at USM.”
Asa, who is a Music Performance major with a Jazz Studies Concentration, is swift to praise the faculty at the Osher School of Music, noting that they’re “both world-class players and regular people.” Like many USM students, he also relishes the freedom and autonomy here, sharing that the school is a great place to figure out your own path if you’re passionate but don’t have a lot of resources. This small and creative community also attracts like-minded people, he noted. “The culture at the Osher School of Music is very close-knit and supportive. Everyone knows each other, the performance majors, education majors, jazz, classical, and theatre. There’s a lot of cross-pollination.”
When the USM Foundation kicked off its Great University Campaign, we asked Asa if he would be willing to represent the Osher School of Music in a launch video intended to showcase the diverse range of the student body and various aspects of the drive, passion, and creativity possessed by students at the University of Southern Maine. Through this experience, he got to meet several other students from throughout the USM community.
“It is out of my comfort zone being in front of a camera and being the focus of attention,” Asa said. “But the guys who did the video, and the marvelous Corey Hascall did a great job making me feel comfortable while filming and assured me that it would be a good experience. At the end of it all I was just glad I did it, especially for the chance to get to meet the other amazing students who partook in the video. They all were incredibly kind, humble, and inspiring. It was quite the privilege to share this experience with such amazing people.”