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J.T. Hassell

J.T. Hassell

While most of the spotlight at TEDxTexasTechUniversity will be shining on those giving the much-anticipated TED Talks, J.T. Hassell won’t be taking the stage to speak. Instead, the 17-year-old accomplished pianist will let his music speak for him.

“For years I’ve enjoyed TED and I would not miss this opportunity,” he said of being asked to perform during the Tech event.

Hassell is currently a junior at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, a high school that specializes in training for performing arts, but he is already a well-known pianist that is often asked to perform. He started piano lessons at the age of 9.

“For the first couple of years, it was just an extra thing I did,” he said of the lessons. “Then when I was 12 years old, I started picking out more difficult pieces.”

And as his interest grew, piano became the main focus for his life.

“Before that, music had never been that important in my life,” he said. “I started to realize how much there is to find in music.”

Hassell said he began to find great satisfaction in performing. He is now preparing for to enter a college program that will further his goals in that area.

For TEDx, he will perform two pieces by French composure Maurice Ravel. “I picked them because they are really two of Ravel’s best works and are very contrasting,” he said.

The first, he described as evoking images of water, “lyrical and sweeping,” and the second is livelier with a Spanish flair.

“Both pieces the audience can connect to immediately because they invoke images in the head of the listener,” Hassell said.

Watch his TEDxTalk.