Sister duo dominates All-State music rankings


Photo courtesy of Alisa Smith

Sisters Erica Smith and Alisa Smith


For freshman Alisa Smith and sophomore Erica Smith, music is a family affair. This year, the two sisters were recently ranked #1 in the state on their respective instruments, flute and clarinet.

According to Mrs. Toni Silveira, NKHS’s band teacher, Erica and Alisa are two of the best student musicians at North Kingstown High School. Even though both girls are only in the first halves of their high school careers, they are already playing collegiate-level compositions.

Silveira attributes their exceptional musical abilities to a combination of hard work and natural talent. “Both Erica and Alisa are naturally gifted, but they are also very dedicated and take [music] seriously,” Silveira said.

In fact, Erica’s and Alisa’s musical abilities come with significant sacrifices. While Erica, a member of the school’s Symphonic Band, practices her clarinet for “45 minutes to one hour per day,” Alisa, a member of the Concert Band, practices her flute for about an hour every day. In addition, Alisa sets time aside daily to practice the piccolo, another instrument that she plays.

Although both siblings genuinely love their instruments, they did not feel the same way initially.

Erica, who originally picked up the clarinet in band class during the fifth grade because “it looked like the recorder,” nearly quit the instrument the following year. However, her band teacher at Jamestown Middle School, Mr. Leland Brown, convinced her to keep with it and arranged private lessons for her.

Meanwhile, Alisa initially felt frustrated with the flute, but she gradually became more satisfied with it as she “practiced and got better” over time. Nowadays, Alisa’s only complaint regarding her musical abilities and her instrument is that her braces make the flute more challenging to play.

Outside of the musical realm, Erica and Alisa have an array of other interests. While Erica enjoys “reading and playing games,” Alisa likes “drawing and sketching.” Both girls are also high achievers within the classroom, and have exceptional grade point averages.

After high school, Erica is currently interested in pursuing a degree in music and becoming a professional musician. She also has a passion for astronomy. Meanwhile, Alisa wants to pursue a double major in music and in the field of cognitive and brain sciences. Both siblings still have plenty of time remaining in their high school careers to explore their interests further, however.

Like their similar plans for the future, Erica and Alisa also agree that the benefits of their accomplishments outweigh the day-to-day sacrifices.

Although Erica does not particularly enjoy practicing her instrument, as many musicians do not, she appreciates the sounds that it has the capability of making. “I love the sound of music on the clarinet, especially the tone quality,” Erica said.

On the other hand, Alisa finds pleasure in praise from others. She desires to impact listeners in a positive way when she plays the flute and the piccolo. “It especially feels good when someone comes up to you [after a musical performance] and says that your performance moved them emotionally,” Alisa said. “It’s very touching.”