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Ruiz commits musicianship

Music major continues work to master craft

By Jared Amdahl, opinion editor
On April 16, 2013

  • Daniel Ruiz fell in love with the piano at 18 and has excelled in the craft since enrolling at Contra Costa College in 2008. He plans to attend Cal State-Fresno. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

When ­­­­­­­Daniel Ruiz wakes up in the morning there is one thing on his mind - leaving his mark on the world of music.
The 23-year-old Richmond native found music as his passion late in life. Captivated by the sounds his sister made through their home electric keyboard, however, Ruiz was first introduced as a little kid to the possibility of music through that older sister, Sofia Rojas.
"You can immerse yourself in feeling. That's what I love about music. It completely changed my life," Ruiz said.
Ruiz will transfer to Cal State-Fresno in fall 2013 with a scholarship in pursuit of his bachelor's degree in piano performance.
"I want my master's degree, and then my doctorate before I'm 35. I know I can do it. My only variable is time," Ruiz said.
Ruiz first came to Contra Costa College in 2008, and "jumped right in" to vocal and piano classes.
Rojas, who graduated from CCC in 2010, enrolled in these classes with him and witnessed his dedication.
"He does everything on his own account," Rojas said.  "But when he dedicates himself to something, he really gets into it."
Despite his involvement in CCC's music program, Ruiz was able to realize his passion for the art through the first year of his piano class. By translating notes on paper into a pleasing sound, a seed was planted.
As the passion bloomed, his instructors noticed the emotion as he played.
"The teachers saw something in me. They had to because they pulled me aside and gave me individual lessons," he said. "Five years later, here I am."
Music major and fellow JAZZ-ology member Lucia Perez was one of the individuals to see him as he grew.
"I've known Daniel for four years. He's a great musician - he is on top of everything and has a lot of potential," Perez said.
Rojas said she feels confident in the direction her brother is now moving.
"As little kids we had a lot of backyard fun, looking for roly polies," she said, "It's good to see where he is now."
Despite his scholarship to Cal State-Fresno, Ruiz said he plans to stay close enough to home to take care of his mother in any worst-case scenario due to her cancer diagnosis in March.
"She doesn't want me to hold my education back because of her, but I need to stay close in case anything happens," he said.
Rojas said even though their mother "looks completely fine at the moment," Ruiz makes sure she exercises for a few hours and watches her strict raw-food diet.
"You don't realize it until you grow up, but our mother was really there for us," Rojas said.
While attending Elim Christian School through his K-12 education, his mother served as a teacher for Ruiz until he graduated at the age of 18. To lower the tuition of his education, his mother volunteered as a teacher and ended up as the director, Rojas said.
"Afer couple of years after he graduated, he saw he had an amazing mother and wanted to give back," Rojas said.
Because his mother sacrificed her career for his education, Ruiz said he must continue his musical pursuit as Ruiz only wishes to see his mother happy while he can.
"I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to quit, how many times I've wanted to change majors," he said. "This just adds to the reason why I need to keep going."

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