Lawrence Custis 2-5d5c5e10

BOOM BAM, BADA BING BOP, POW! On February 23, 2003 I was born and dubbed the name Lawrence Custis, taking the first name of my dad and the last name of my Mom. I grew up a bookworm reading comics, pokemon pokedex books, and classic kids literature like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants. I was always interested in Fantasy, Action, and Adventure books because of the flashy powers and interesting concepts. I have always liked music. Growing up my mom would blast music from speakers stacked on speakers stacked on speakers connected to even more speakers. It was both a blessing and curse because It was impossible to get any sleep once she was in the zone. I have participated in both choir and band with drums being my instrument of choice. There was something about the rhythm section that resonated in my heart. Within the band there was a drum ensemble made up of three drummers not including me. They were ALL significantly better than I was, they were able to get the concepts so easily while I sat there confused and wondering why I kept stumbling. I cannot recall a day I did not touch the drum pad when I got home. Eventually I went from the worst drummer to the best. I was able to read rhythms and phrases like no other drummer could, in the school. When my friend Christopher said he was going to Creative Arts/Morgan Village Academy to pursue playing saxophone, I decided to apply for drums. At the auditions, I only knew basic drum rhythms on snare, while the other applicants knew how to play the whole drum set. Luckily, my grades and recommendations assisted in me getting accepted. Unfortunately, my acceptance came with a price as my instrument was changed from drums to trombone. Leaving me to learn a new instrument. Needless to say, I cried…for a while. I learned it was all a part of God’s plan. Now it was time to get to work, I had no time to sit back and mope. I went home and practiced all day. It was not until my first band concert, “The Little Jazz Giants”, that I felt love for the trombone. I practiced day in and day out and before the end of 6th grade my ability to read music was said to have been better than all the graduating 8th graders. While in The Little Jazz Giants, I made a friend named Juhran. He and I would push each other to become better. If I learned something, he learned it. If he learned something, I learned something better. We constantly tugged, pulling each other up and eventually both became pretty decent. I went on to receive solo awards and section awards throughout my middle school year and even in my freshman year in highschool. During the summer of my freshman year, It was decided that we would need a new piano player. Our only pianist would be leaving for college soon, and I was picked to take his place. As much as I wanted to stay on trombone, playing the piano was for the betterment of the band. I took lessons from Mr.Isaiah Rivera and felt like I had complete control of the piano. Unlike with other instruments, I could see my options, the shapes they form, the different textures and sounds I could produce, and the various sounds on the keyboard. I loved it all. I could practice anytime of day without being told to put my instrument away because there was a headphone plug on the back of the keyboard I had at home. The rhythm section I played with was always fun, we were a family if anything. Thanks to the band, I’ve had countless experiences including being in pits of professional plays, performing on big stages, and meeting professionals with whom I take lessons. I still think drums are the glue of the band, and I still think trombone is the soul of the band, but piano….. Piano is on an entirely different level. The piano is the mind. So simple yet so complex. I love it! Besides playing music, I took an interest in composing and arranging. I have arranged two songs for the “Little Jazz Giants”, along with another song for “P.A.C.E feat. Trumpet Chics”. Among playing music, I currently invest myself in reading manga/comics and watching Anime. I don’t know what it is about anime but If you ever listen closely there is ALWAYS music playing. The music is so intriguing and I find myself always wanting to learn more about it. I’m still on the search for recreating that sound on the piano, I know I can do it! I have won multiple NAACP ACT-SO awards, and was a finalist at the 2020 Omega Psi Phi Talent Hunt.

The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education began in 1980 to promote awareness and appreciation of the arts, recognizing the creativity, talent and leadership of the award winners. Each year, awards are presented to approximately 20 educators and 80 students. National and statewide organizations select the students for their exemplary work in creative writing, speech, dance, music, theatre and visual arts and the leaders for their exceptional commitment and contribution to arts education. The program also recognizes arts educators and arts education advocates, whose leadership has helped nurture the development of students in the arts across the state.

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The Governor’s Awards event is a partnership of the Arts Ed NJ, the Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by: the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics; Art Educators of New Jersey; Art Administrators of New Jersey; Dance New Jersey; New Jersey Council of Teachers of English; New Jersey Speech and Debate League; New Jersey Music Educators Association; New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Writer's Theatre of New Jersey; Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey; New Jersey Thespians and Young Audiences of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. The cooperating organizations, award sponsors and individual members of the planning council dedicate their time to make sure that excellence in the arts is rewarded, and work tirelessly throughout the year to plan this special event. The Governor's Awards in Arts Education ceremony are a major collaborative effort of the arts, education and state government.