We recently came across some online information about iOS apps being developed by Kettering Music alum Ben Winters. Ben is a 2002 Graduate of Fairmont who has taken several interesting career paths since leaving the halls of FHS. We had a great time catching up with him!
Ben was a member of the Fairmont band and percussion programs who practically lived in a practice room. Director of Bands Michael Berning recalls writing letters of recommendation to several prestigious music schools for Ben. "I always try to write about something that stands out and for Ben it was his living in the practice room." Berning wondered about his recollection so he dug up that recommendation letter from the dusty archives and this is a small quote from it.
"Ben’s dedication to his musical studies is best demonstrated by his time spent in our practice rooms. He is notorious in our program for living in the practice rooms. No matter how late I may stay in the band office I have to ask Ben to leave the practice rooms on my way out. My familiar “Ben you have two minutes” is my farewell to him most every evening.
Mr. Berning also recalls many years ago receiving a program in the mail with a note from Ben who had just performed in a modern music ensemble at Carnegie Hall. While Mr. Berning couldn't locate that program any longer he did uncover a newsletter article he had written in 2008 about that surprise in the mail.
After a few facebook messages and emails with Ben, Mr. Berning asked if he would contribute a few words for the new alumni section of the Kettering Music website. This is the note he received from Ben today.
"It's hard to trace the steps and influences that led to my current work as an iOS developer. I began studying percussion in the 6th grade, became serious about it at Fairmont (class of '02), and earned a bachelor's degree in music performance. I performed in music festivals around the US and Europe, but ultimately decided that only part of my identity could be realized in the concert hall.
I returned to school for a second bachelor's degree in finance, studied abroad in Paris, and then worked in marketing for four years in Shanghai. While Shanghai taught me much about myself, it was difficult to find a fit without technical skills or experience, especially when compared to local graduates who worked for significantly less. In truth, I had been avoiding a key question, "How do I create value for employers and customers?" I didn't have a clear answer, so I returned to the US and worked to develop a more compelling one.
After a decade of post-graduate trial and error, I found my most fulfilling work at the intersection of my experiences, work that I am uniquely qualified to do. It combines self-taught programming skills with a deep understanding of the problems that my music and finance apps are solving. And importantly for me, it is not only creative, but also entrepreneurial and practical. In hindsight, it's clear that I was always a programmer, I just didn't know it yet. Now I do."