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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA sophomore double-majors in biochemistry and music

    When faced with the decision to pursue music or medicine, Wyatt Duino took the easy way out: he chose both.

    Already a declared biochemistry major, the 18-year-old UA student is set to begin music classes in the fall to further pursue a singing career. Obtaining both musical and medical degrees, while nothing short of ambitious, is mostly notable for its rare presence on resumes typically divided between experience in the arts or sciences. “I wouldn’t be happy if I was doing something I didn’t love doing,” said Duino, who played bass, trombone and piano in middle school before transitioning — purely by accident — to singing after someone took notice while Duino was “messing around” with his voice.

    “(They) told me I was good,” Duino said. “I didn’t believe it, because I had never sung before.”

    But the compliment stuck, and it didn’t take long for Duino to add another outlet to his musical repertoire. Thanks in part to his middle school music teacher, who stressed that “hard work and effort can overcome talent,” Duino was inspired to begin technical training for his voice. As he progressed, his impression of singing began to change.

    “When I first started, I was just trying to gain skill and technicality,” Duino said. “But as I moved on, I realized music is much more than skill, it’s artful expression.”

    Due to its popularity in his California high school, Duino quickly pinpointed R&B and acoustic music as a means to that expression. He began to record performance videos covering well-known songs with his own vocal twists, posting them on a YouTube channel for friends to circulate and comment on.

    Working on covers provided a comfortable place to both practice and explore, and Duino didn’t feel pressured to write his own verses. However, that sense of security faltered his junior year of high school. A close friend of his died in a parkour-related accident, leaving Duino flooded with emotion and a “large motivation to create,” he said.

    Finding motivation was a challenge, but far from impossible. Duino began to translate his daily emotions first into poetry, then into musical verse, and was surprised with the result: unpolished and intense, but undisputedly real songs. He decided to share his newfound creative inspiration with other students before moving on to college: Club Expressions, organized by Duino to help high-schoolers involved in the arts showcase their work to the public, raised over $5,000 for families in need his senior year.

    On scholarship at the UA, Duino declared biochemistry to ultimately fulfill his long-time dream of becoming a neurosurgeon. Music, however, continued to remain a focus, and not incorporating it into his education made Duino feel like his future was limited to only one option. Choosing to declare music as well, he said, opened those options up to many other possibilities, making him more motivated and “better oriented” to think critically.

    “Sometimes you just have a moment in your life when you realize, ‘This is what I want to do,’” he said. “If I don’t become a doctor, I want to pursue my music 100 percent. Whatever happens, happens.”

    A discussion of Duino’s favorite artists, John Legend and Adam Levine, prompted a debate: Are the countless reality singing competitions on television the mass media’s attempt to recognize talent on a grand scale, or an insult to the entire industry? With both his chosen artists acting as judges in such programs (“Duets,” and “The Voice” respectively), I had an idea of what Duino would think, but the scope of his response surprised me.

    “(The shows) are a great movement towards creating community,” he said. “It gives (the public) a more musical and artistic background. Music is something that everyone can agree on.” Asked if he would ever go on one himself, Duino laughed and said he “wouldn’t be opposed to it.”

    However, Duino has no need to rely on the likes of Steven Tyler and the rest of the eccentric performers-turned-critics roster, as he’s already pushing beyond the constraints of social media on his own this summer. With performances scheduled in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco — the last two of which he used to live in — Duino intends to document his travels and convey personal memories of each city through the music he performs.

    “You can take a person out of a place, but you can’t take the place out of the person,” he said. “I’m really just a combination of my interactions and experiences.”

    And if experience is key, when Duino returns in the fall as a newly-declared music student, he’ll have plenty more to sing about.

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